Monday, November 15, 2010

Renee Rearden Interview

In what seems like forever ago Renee somehow found me and inquired that I review her upcoming novel, Moonlight Bleu (which is now in stores). Due to unforeseen events it took me longer than expected to finish it. As you can see the review has been posted and now I am posting the interview. I really do like the book and the author is just as great!

How did you come up with the eccentric character names in your novel?
That’s a loaded question! I’m an official court reporter by day. So during jury trials (and other kinds of hearings) I often hear interesting names through testimony offered in court. I also love finding new ways to spell the names I hear. It’s kind of a game I play when building a character’s personality.

The subtle use of homo-erotica was appealing for me, even though it was lesbian based. What involved your decision to include that as a part of your story?
Well, honestly, it wasn’t a scene I’d consciously planned. As a writer, I’m kind of a pantser. So even though I have a general story direction, the characters always surprise me when I sit down at the keyboard and write. For conflict or interest, I often take situations and turn them on their head. That may explain why this part of the storyline developed as it did.

The title is called Moonlight Bleu, not Moonlight Blue. What's the significance instead of using one than the other?
I’m chuckling. Sorry, can’t help it. Look at each title above. Which one looks more interesting? Different? Moonlight Bleu, of course. And there’s your answer. =D

The Tueri are a new paranormal life form I haven't heard of. Well that sounded a bit redundant! Anyways, were the Tueri something you-yourself made up? Or have they already been established before?
The Tueri are a paranormal form of human evolution I created. The word tueri is Latin for defend. I thought the definition appropriate for this new world. With preternatural creatures roaming the planet, somebody needs to defend the human race, right?

With such intensity between the Trigonal Pair, was it hard to not incorporate sex into the story? Or was the underlying sexuality enough?
No, it wasn’t hard to not incorporate sex in the story per se. I’m just an old-fashioned girl. I love the idea of meeting someone, getting to know them, and discovering the fire that burns toward love. That kind of lasting bond didn’t happen overnight for me, but all kinds of intense magnetism was there. That’s what I wanted for my characters. Now in book two, be ready for some serious smexin’!

Maurika is an interesting character. What quality does she possess that you find in yourself? What quality does she have that you would like to have?
Maurika possesses a strong sense of loyalty. Her leadership abilities, combined with an absolute devotion to protecting her pack, makes her a formidable woman. I think we’re most alike in that sense. My family means everything to me, and I would do whatever it takes to keep them safe. As for a quality she has that I would like to have…gotta be the enhanced senses from her lunate side. Can you imagine being able to see, hear, and smell on such an amazing level? Wow.

Would you ever consider a novel featuring Maurika?
Well, the main characters in my Tueri books will always be my Trigonal protagonists and an antagonist. However, just for you, I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve started book three in this series, and Maurika plays a large part of this storyline. So, she’ll definitely be back!

Is Dhelis' career a reflection of your own?
Hmm, that’s a yes and no answer. As I mentioned before, I’m an official court reporter, and I work in the legal field. I do, however, have a lot of contact with law enforcement through my career.

Will there be a continuation to Saari's story? (You already answered this but I think it will be a good question for my readers to see. My original question you already answered i.e. Josie, Trigonal Pair, etc.)
Saari’s story will absolutely continue. The second book has already been written and is in editing stages right now. Saari, Dhelis, and Brogan are working on their Trigonal match, and Josie has definite plans to interfere with their burgeoning relationship.

Thanks again to Renee for the opportunity to review and interview her. Most importantly I want to thank her for her patience and graciousness. We're looking forward to book two, three, four........

Monday, November 1, 2010

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

I don't believe in ghosts.
Unfortunately they believe in me.

Let me set the record straight. my name is Charlotte Silver and I'm not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I'm usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven't gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parent' research trip in Charleston-and now I'm being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new schooland keeping my parents' creepy occupation a secret from my friends and potential boyfriends-is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear. All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with the ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive...

This is an ARC that I had requested from the author. She willingly sent me the novel included with an autograph and a bookmark of the book itself. As I began the story it was quickly acknowleged how fast, comfortable and easy to tead it would be. The beginning actually starts with a deja vu of sorts that you have already been in the story before you begun to read. It also had a feel of "Ghost Hunter's" and "The Ghost Whisperer," even if it was a more adolescent view.

With the exception of my work and school, I sincerely didn't want to put this book down!This is definitely one of my top new favorite series of the year. Chapter 1-15 were gradually paced. Then along comes Chapter 16 and you feel like a catapultation of suspense. Then it guickly slowed down again.

Clearly the novel is fiction. However even ficticiously the drama involved with Avery, Adam & Jared, was very surreal. The loss of someone in your life causes many effects, very rarely do we ever get them reconciled.

The Pickens' resolution I thought was phenomenal. Differentialy tho, I thought the resolution between Avery, Adam & Jared was very minimalistic. Personally I felt it should have been prolonged. Or even resolved in book two which could lead into the exciting new adventure in this series?!

I had a couple favorite quotes in this novel. Here they are:

"...the trick is not to prove something is real, but to prove that it is not real."

"The truth is that the paranormal is normal. It's just a normal we don't understand yet."

"I was a little overwhelmed at the thought that I was surrounded by people willing to walk into the unknown with me."

Thanks again to Mara for the novel, authograph, bookmark and our interview. I sincerely apologize for the delay in the post. I look forward to more adventures with you and the characters in the new series.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Moonlight Bleu by Renee Rearden

Saari Mitchell sees a psychologist in order to understand why-500 years later-she's still dreaming of her dead lover. Her shrink isn't helping, the nightmares come every time she closes her eyes, and the lack of sleep is interfering with her job at Sacred Heart Hospital. With her psychic ability to heal the human spirit on the fritz, her auric radar becomes as reliable as her spotty cell phone service.

By day, Dhelis Guidry works as a detective for the New Angeles Police Department investigating the missing or murdered women in the Full-Moon Killer case. In his spare time he hunts rogue vampires as a Tueri executioner.

Brogan Vincent is a Tueri healer. Though he could offer his miraculous talents to the rich and powerful, he has chosen anonymity and peace by only using his psychic abilities among the Tueri.

One look into Saari's tri-colored eyes and both men realize she is Tueri. One touch tells them each she's their soul mate. But can either of them protect her from the Full-Moon Killer?

Moonlight Bleu is a novel that I was actually blessed to receive from the author. She actually contacted me first, which is usually the opposite in my typical arc dealings. Due to my studies at college I have been so overwhelmed and overloaded among many other things; which has hindered me in the delay of this review and others as well. So I am happy to announce that I have finally been able to finish and post the review for Renee and you readers alike.

As I said above Renee actually contacted me in regards of doing a review for her. She actually sent me the arc autographed, and included a hand-written personal letter. I thought it was such an endearing and professional thing to do, especially considering most people now-a-days lack the personal touches on such things (including myself at times)!

I was a bit confused on the lands and places. I think it would have been nice to include a map of the areas so us visual people could get an idea of where things were located. There was a scene with Thana & Dhelis that read with an intensity but seemed to have a sense of disconnect. To make up for that remark, I found it intriguing to read about Tueri's. These are a paranormal group of people whom I have never heard of and never read about either. It was such an interesting concept with their stone rider's, pairings and "powers".

Although it's relevant to the flow of the story, it seems as if it took foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrr for Brogan to be introduced into the story. I actually found myself liking his character more than Dhelis. The council scene with Saari, Brogan, Dhelis & Josie seemed like a huge snowball effect. Although it cleared up some story flow and consistency, that part IMO, should have been further prolonged?!

Several of the last chapters were action packed. I think a little delayed, but specifically chapters 30-end made up for it. There was no resolution with the psycho bitch, Josie. However the ending was feasible if there will be a continuation into the story. I just feel that there wasn't a complete ending since you are not sure of what will happen with the Trigonal Pair.

Favorite Quote:
"Evil, soullessness- it's not defined by what you are, only by what you do. How you live your life, choosing not to deliberately harm others, that's what defines a person's soul."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mindi Scott Interview

This is an interview with the talented author of Freefall, Mindi Scott. Let's see what clever things she has to say....

Wow! When you get your first novel they don't give you a break do they?

They totally do, actually! I had a few months off while waiting for revision notes after the deal went through. And now that the pass pages are done, I'm done for now. Although, there is always the next book to write and networking and all that . . .

I just finished sending Kimberly Derting her interview. Isn't she sweet?

She's VERY sweet! She actually lives about an hour away from me, so we've met up a few times.

What is it like seeing rows of your books in major book stores?

At the time of this interview, that hasn't happened to me. Maybe we'll have to do a follow up later. ;-)

Eight cats? I have one and he's enough!

Where did you hear that slanderous rumor??? I have only four cats. Of course, they are enough trouble for eight, I suppose.

Is it weird being an author interviewing an author?

Not at all! It think it's more natural than being an author interviewing any other sort of person.

Are you overwhelmed with emails regarding Freefall?

Lately, yes, but I'm trying to catch up.

What is your favorite type of music? Do you have a playlist you listen to while writing?

I like the music we used to call "alternative," I suppose. I change up music for every book I work on, though. Right now, it's non-stop Silversun Pickups. While I was writing and revising FREEFALL, I listened mainly to the Killers, Ash, Social Distortion, Tom Petty, and "It's Been Awhile" by Staind.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Which ones? Looking forward to any upcoming ones?

I NetFlix'ed BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM and that was pretty cute. I'm looking forward to the ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT movie if it ever happens!

What is the last book you read? What was it about?

A LOVE STORY STARRING MY DEAD BEST FRIEND by Emily Horner. According to Amazon is about "the breadth of love. Of the depth of friendship. And of the most hilarious musical one quiet suburb has ever seen." :-)

Thanks so much for the interview! I appreciate it.

No, thank you Mindi! It was my pleasure to have you take time out of your busy schedule and allow me this interview. I can't wait for Freefall to come out as it is part of the Debut Author Challenge I joined back in December 2009. May October bring you lots of success and fans galore.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jeff Jacobson Interview

Jeff's name may jog a memory of a previous review of his I did this year, Foodchain. This man is just hysterical and his novel was insane!! Take a glance at what he has cared to share with me.

Your newest novel, "Food Chain" was released last month. Can you tell us a little about it?

Foodchain is a crime novel about Frank Winter, a disgraced veternarian who works for the mob at a Chicago horse racing track. When a job goes bad, they take Frank out to a roadside zoo out in the desert and try to feed him to a bunch of starving alligators. He ends up in an isolated small town where the tyrannical mayor puts Frank's talents to use in a series of exotic animal hunts that escalate into animal death matches. And of course, Frank is pushed to the brink, and has to decide whether to side with the humans or the animals. Basically, it's a story of bad guys and even worse guys. I mean, to be totally honest, when I started, all I wanted to write was a compelling, really vicious shoot 'em up. And Foodchain was the result.

Columbia is one of America's most prolific colleges. Did you begin writing before teaching? Or vice versa?

I'm one of these guys who started writing stories as soon as I learned how to read and write. I think my mom has a few of my early efforts, thirteen page epics with painstaking illustrations like "The Creature From the Black Swamp." I suppose the subject matter hasn't changed much over the years, but hopefully my skills have grown a bit sharper.

Do you incorporate your own work into your teachings? Why?

Oh sure. Columbia College Chicago is a liberal arts school that takes a lot of pride in hiring teachers that work in whatever field they're teaching. As a writer, it's impossible not to bring my own experiences into the fiction workshops. Not so much my voice or the content of my stuff; in fact I work very hard at keeping neutral so students can develop their own voices and stories. The last thing I want is for my students to go out and write stuff just like mine. But I definitely talk about my experiences in publishing. I especially talk about my mistakes, so the students can learn from my dumbass moves, and they can go on and make their own mistakes, which is how we learn.

You seem to travel a bit? California, Chicago, Taiwan, Australia...What did you take away from your acting in "the land down under?"

Yeah, I like to travel. There's something very appealling about dropping everything, throwing shit in a backpack, and hopping on a plane. Of course, it's different now, since I've got a family and a job, so it isn't quite as simple. It started in high school, when a buddy was going to apply to be a foreign exchange student. He ultimately wanted to go the Air Force Academy, and apparently they frowned on anybody spending an extended length of time outside the States, so he dropped the application. God forbid you might actually learn there's a whole other world out there. The more I thought about it, the more I said what the hell, and within a year, I was living in Melbourne, Australia. There, I met some fantastic folks, and ended up acting in a non-profit company called "No Mates", directed by my good pal Craig Christie, who has gone on to become quite a celebrated playwright/songwriter. In terms of what I took away, I think it was probably a heightened awareness of your audience when you're telling a story. When you're acting, you get this immediate feedback, and so you can alter whatever you're doing, stretch moments out, stress certain things, etc. When you're writing, you don't have the luxury of that immediate audience, so it helps if you can imagine one and try to anticipate how they might react. Of course, there's also a flip side; when you're acting and the audience isn't into your story, then you've got nowhere to hide. When you're writing, you can keep rewriting, keep sending it out to your friends and gauging their reaction, you keep fiddling with things until your happy.

You mentioned to me that "Wormfood" has changed since the ARC, Advanced Reader Copy. What was the reasoning for the changes?

Oh, nothing major, just a few small things, like fixing a few clunky sentences, some dumb continuity errors on my part, things like that.

If you had to pick three of your top favorite most gory, blood-fest movies, what would they be?

Jeez, I don't know. It's too fucking hard to nail down just three, you know? I tell ya, in terms of movies that have influenced me the most, I've got probably five or six crammed into the top three spots in a kind of strange tie. But if you put a gun to my head, let's see... My life wouldn't be complete without Dawn of the Dead, Jaws, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. There's some others I can't live without, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Road Warrior, The Killer and Hard Boiled, Escape From New York, The Thing... Man, I could go on and on and on. But you'll notice, most of those came out within four years of each other, right around '78-82. I was ten in there, so yeah, it was a hugely influential time in my life. I was one big-ass, thirsty sponge. But if I had to pick three of my favorite most gory, blood-fest movies, I'd probably recommend Peter Jackson's Dead/Alive (Braindead), which has, quite possibly, the most bodily fluids ever spilled in a movie. It's also one of the funniest movies ever. For me, anyway. Then I'd go with Cannibal Holocaust, which is excrutiating, and always leaves me a sweating, nervous wreck. Then maybe something like Doctor Butcher, M.D., just 'cause.

What about novels?

Hell, this is even harder. If you're looking for some authors that don't take any prisoners, that aren't gonna hold your hand and tell you everything is gonna be okay, that aren't fucking around... First off, Jack Ketchum's Off Season. If you like horror, and you haven't read it, then you owe yourself. Jump up right now and go get it. Actually, pretty much anything with Jack Ketchum's name on it is required reading. Then I'd have to go with Edward Lee's The Bighead. I can't describe it. I'm not even going to try. Just trust me. It's not scary exactly, but it'll test your gag reflex. I just read J.F. Gonzalez's Survivor, and it kicked my ass. And one more, even if it isn't shelved in the horror section. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It's flat-out brilliant.

What is it about crime and horror fiction that appeals to your writing skills?

Maybe not so much my writing skills as my sensibilities I guess, but I'd have to say that for whatever reason, I was born with this love of dark stuff. The thing about horror and crime is that they don't have to play by the rules of "traditional" or "mainstream" books. You can get away with a lot of really subversive shit. I mean, I just read Jason Starr's Fake ID. It's a first person crime novel, and when you start, since it is narrated in the the first person, you kind of automatically want to root for the character, but Starr yanks the rug out from under you. It's a lot like what Jim Thompson was doing. I guess, in these kinds of books, you have an opportunity to examine these awful people, the kinds of characters that most popular fiction shies away from. Hell, I don't know. Bottom line, it's FUN.

So many classic horror flics are being remade- A Nightmare On Elm Street, Night Of The Demons- the list goes on. What is your take on classics being remade?

Well, you gotta remember that filmmaking is a business, first and foremost. Pretty much every single decision is made with an eye toward the bottom line. That said, I try not to get too upset when I hear that they're planning to remake one of my favorite movies of my youth. I mean, look at my list a few questions back-- damn near every single movie I listed has either been remade or is in the planning stages. When I first heard that they were going to remake Dawn of the Dead, I was fucking furious. But when I had a chance to calm down, I realized that the original will still be available, so no big deal. And hell, I thought the Dawn remake was kinda cool. I hope they'll do a good job with the Escape From New York remake, but whether it is or isn't, hey, I can always still pop in my DVD of the original. And I think it's important to not be a hypocrite here; I mean, let's be honest--John Carpenter's The Thing is a remake. So is Cronenberg's The Fly. So is Friedkin's Sorcerer. Same with Scorsese's The Departed. And even Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, even if he won't admit it. So I'm not against remakes exactly, I'm just sick of bad filmmaking. That piece of shit remake of The Fog comes to mind, you know? So yeah, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious about the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, and frankly, I'm fired up about the Piranha 3D remake. Bring it on.

How do your students react to your accomplishments?

I don't think it's a big deal to them. In the Fiction Department at Columbia College, there's tons of teachers and professors that are published authors. Most are far more accomplished than I am. So to the students, it's pretty routine. I mean, I'm nothing special, you know? My students are the first to tease me and keep me grounded. It's a good reality check.

Jeff, wow! Where can I begin. Your brutal honesty and dark sense of humor make me smile. I can't express how much I appreciate how frank you were without a care. Some author's tend to tip-toe around and be courteous. I don't want that. I want reality. So thank you for showing that. I truly enjoyed your interview just as much as I did your novel, Foodchain. Congratulations once again on your success with both your novels and in your teachings. I hope that we can read more from you in the future.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alaya Dawn Johnson Interview

You may recognize Alaya's name from earlier this year when I reviewed her novel Moonshine. She so graciously has since allowed me this interview. So let's see what this beautifully talented authoress has to say.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I can't remember exactly when I decided I wanted to be a writer, but I was definitely younger than six, because I attempted my first novel at the age of seven. I've been writing pretty much continuously ever since, with varying success.

How long have you been writing for?

Twenty one years, give or take a few.

Of your work, which is your favorite, or that you hold dear for one reason or another?

Probably out of everything I've written until now, I'm most proud of a short story that ran last year in Fantasy Magazine called "A Song to Greet the Sun." Of my novels, Moonshine is probably my favorite (though that's a close call).

As an author who is your favorite to read from?

I love them for different reasons, but two of my favorite authors are Guy Gavriel Kay and Diana Wynne Jones. One writes adult fantasy and the other YA, but they're both masters of their field and consistently surprise, entertain and shock me with their prose. My other favorite writer is Dorothy Dunnett, whose Lymond Chronicles continues to have a huge influence on my writing.

 What is your favorite genre?

I grew up reading fantasy voraciously, so that's probably still my biggest love. But at the moment I'm far more likely to read historicals or just straight-up literary fiction.
or your fans and readers?

Words of wisdom? Probably not, but I will say that if you like my books please visit my website ( ) and let me know. Reader feedback is the fuel for my writerly engine--it really helps me keep going!

Can an interview possibly be considered cute? Well this one was! If her novel was intriguing, then she has since surpassed it. Thank you Alaya for allowing this interview and the opportunity to review Moonshine. Congratulations once again on the publication and continuing success in the writing field.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Jennifer Estep Interview

This year I had a great opportunity to do reviews for both of Jennifer Estep's Gin Blanco "Elemental Assain" series, Spider's Bite & Web of Lies. I also had the chance to interview her as well. Read on below to see what this talented author has to say.

It's rare anymore to see a female character without being strong in more ways than one. What are your thoughts on this?

I’ve always loved strong heroines in books, TV shows, and movies. Some of my favorite characters are Sydney Bristow from Alias, Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess, and Wonder Woman. So I really enjoy all the strong female characters out there, and I hope folks think that my assassin character, Gin Blanco, is a good addition to the mix.

Nobody likes reading about wimpy characters, whether they’re male or female. If the fate of the world rests on your heroine’s shoulders, then she needs to know how to take care of herself and save the day. I’m not saying that she has to be a Rambo-type character, but she needs something that she can draw on to help her – whether it’s magic, weapons, or just her own street smarts. Those are the characters that I like reading about, and those kind of strong female characters are what I write about in my own books.

 With that being said, how do you feel about feminism and "Grrrrl Power" and all that?

I’m all for feminism and “Grrrrl Power.” I think that women can do everything that men can do – women are just as strong, smart, and sexy as guys are, so why shouldn’t we be portrayed that way?

Is it hard writing a paranormal novel and keeping it based to one specific mythos ... werewolf, vampire, fairies, zombies etc?

Not really. I have four main types of creatures/magic users in my Elemental Assassin series – vampires, giants, dwarves, and elementals (or folks who can use one of the four elements, which are Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone). So I’ve got a lot of different magic and powers to play around with in the series.

 I also have another urban fantasy series in the works, as well as a young adult series. The magic system in both of those is different from the Elemental Assassin series. For me, half the fun of writing a novel is coming up with new powers and problems for my various heroines. I have a different system in each series, so when I get tired of one, I can always go write in another world that I’ve created.

Do you ever use your stories as a sense of therapy? Such as getting revenge on someone via the novel? Or anything like that?

Not really. Although the one thing that I really enjoy about writing Gin Blanco is that she gets to do and say whatever she wants to – whether it’s being a smartass to someone that she shouldn’t or taking out a bad guy. She’s just a really fun character to write in that respect. Gin can say and do things that I would never dream of doing!

You have two current series, "Elemental Assassins" and "Bigtime." What is the diversity between the two?

My Elemental Assassin series is urban fantasy, and the books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider. Titles in the series are Spider’s Bite (which came out in February), Web of Lies (coming out on May 25), and Venom (due out on Sept. 28).

My Bigtime series is paranormal romance, and the books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smarty, sassy gals looking for love. Titles in the series are Karma Girl, Hot
Mama, and Jinx.

 Basically, the Elemental Assassin books are much, much darker and grittier than my Bigtime books, which are really comic book spoofs/romances.

Have you ever thought of crossing the two? Or would that not work?

I do this a little bit now. In each one of my Elemental Assassin books, I try to give at least one a little shoutout to my Bigtime books as well. For example, in Spider’s Bite, I mention that someone is wearing a Fiona Fine suit – Fiona happens to be a fashion designer/superhero in my Bigtime series.

I think that casually dropping in characters like that is a little treat for all my Bigtime fans out there, and it’s a lot of fun for me too. ;-)

How do you accomplish a scheduled time frame for a novel?

I have a day job so I do my writing at nights and on the weekends. I write a rough draft pretty quickly, usually in about three weeks, just getting the words down as fast as I can. Then, I let the book sit for a while before going back and seeing if the story holds together and what changes need to be made. Then, I start working on a second draft. Once that’s done, I go back through it and see what changes need to be made. I usually do this about three or four times before I have a finished book. It can take anywhere from two to six months, depending on how busy I am with various projects.

Is it easy coming up with character names? What is the process in doing so for you?

This is pretty easy for me. First of all, I think about the names that I’ve used already and make sure that I don’t repeat any of those, at least not for a main character. Sometimes, I’ll look up names online to see what their meanings and origins are and see what might fit my story. But basically, once I have my character in mind, I just sit down and come up with a name for them – something cool and catchy that fits the story.

You have a crazzzzzzzzy tour schedule for 2010. It must be exhilarating. What parts of your tours do you look forward to the most?

My schedule isn’t really that crazy – I try to go to a few conferences every year. The best part of any conference is just interacted with folks – readers, authors, and industry professionals – because we’re all there for the same reason. We love books – reading them, writing them, and talking about them.

How have you coped being around so many great colleagues? (Cope may not be the right word feel free to do a substitution!!) Is it numbing? Like you just can't believe it's happening still?

There are so many great writers out there. It’s always very humbling whenever I go to a convention and get to meet someone whose books I’ve loved for years. I’ve signed books in the same room as folks like Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber – it really is an honor just to be in the same room with best-selling authors like that.

Thank you Jennifer for this insightful and fun interview with you. I truly enjoyed the Elemental Assassin series. I can't wait for Venom this month. Hopefully Mab Monroe gets a beat down!! Congratulations once again on all of your publication success to date, as well as your up coming urban fantasy series. Thanks again for the review, gifts, and interview opportunities you have so kindly allowed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Readers just another update for myself to keep track of ARC's I currently need to read and the ones on their way.

Currently Reading:
Darkborn - Alison Sinclair
Moonlight Bleu - Renee Rearden

Need to Read:
Dogfood - David Moody
Past Midnight - Mara Purnhagen
Lightborn - Alison Sinclair
We Were Here - Matt De La Pena
Down Among The Dead Men - Robert Gregory Browne
Red-Headed Stepchild - Jaye Wells
The Mage In Black - Jaye Wells
Hunted By The Others - Jess Haines
The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi

ARC's Coming In The Mail:
Mermaid - Carolyn Turgeon

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey

The action and romance continue as the Drake family faces a new vampire with a 200-year-old grudge

As the clans gather for Helena's royal coronation as the next vampire queen, the rifts left over from Lady Natasha's reign are slowly beginning to heal. But a new common enemy-Leander Montmartre-has a thirst for power that must be stopped before he destroys the newfound peace they've just begun to enjoy. With their new status as vampire royalty, it's up to the Drake family to unite the clans against him.
That includes Isabeau St. Croix, who is intent on confronting Montmartre's top lieutenant, Greyhaven, the evil British earl who left her for dead centuries ago when he turned her into a vampire. But after meeting Logan Drake-a vampire whose kiss is as sweet as the revenge she seeks-she'll have put her own mission aside to fight for the common cause.
This second adventure in the Drake Chronicles, has all the same butt-kicking action and heart-pounding romance that readers loved in Hearts at Stake, as well as exciting new revelations about the vampire dynasties to keep readers coming back for more.

So this is the continuation into the Drake Chronicles series. In the front of this novel there is a Drake family tree. I actually wished that it had been included in the front of book one as well to give the readers a heads up on the family lineage. I also didn't realize that Connor & Quinn were twins. Maybe I read over that info in Hearts At Stake?

I was disappointed that the story wasn't focused on Solange like I had expected it to be. However I do like the fact you get to know more on her eccentric brother Logan. I also enjoyed the prologue of Isabeau's history. A good thing for new readers is that the author recapped Hearts At Stake making it easy for people to follow. There was one section with a Marie Antoinette flashback that I enjoyed as well.

Some of the French terminology should have been translated or had a reference guide to in the back. The Montmartre/Greyhaven battle had an enormous intensity and impact on the end of this novel. It clearly set the pace for book three. However with the resolution of Montmartre and I am wondering what's in store for book three. Hopefully it is a Connor & Quinn conjoined novel that tells their story intertwiningly. Most of all though, I am hoping for the Nicholas & Lucy one! Does she get turned? Or does she live a human life to the end of her days with Nicholas???

Favorite Quotes:

"I don't know what it said about me that it kind of turned me on that she could probably kick my ass if she wanted to."

"Sense doesn't have a lot to do with being a man."

Once again I would like to thank both Alyxandra Harvey for writing these awesomely kick-ass novels, and to Kate Lied who so kindly sent them to me when she didn't have to do so.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hearts At Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

This was an Arc that was unavailable when I had made my request. Shortly after I was offered an oppotunity that had expired before I even had a chance to reply. That said, it was clear to me the potential of this new series was going to be way more popular than expected. Thankfully Kate Lied, publicity assistant with Bloomsbury publishing, offered to send me Hearts At Stake (#1) and Blood Feud (#2) in the Drake Chronicles due to the inconvenience.

This was another of my featured novels in August's "Zombies Vs Vampires" theme. Not only was the book so great, but it was extremely fast paced and I didn't want to put it down. Although the story is written based on the Drake family, and this one mostly on Solange Drake, I was more drawn to Lucy & Nicholas's characters. Lucy especially overshadows Solange and it made it feel like the characters should have been flip flopped? Alyxandra Harvey has created such a detailed family lineage with the Drake family vampires that it makes it easy to follow the story without any forms of confusion.

I actually felt that while reading it there was a sense of modern-day poetry with a retro feel. I think with such creativity in the way it is written that it allows the audience of readers to vary in age ranges without being too kitschy and even too kiddy. The ending was of the sort that compels the reader of a hunger to continue such a fun and thrilling journey with the Drake family vampires...and even my girl Lucy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hater by David Moody

assaults on individuals. Christened "Haters" by the media, the attackers strike without warning, killing all who cross their path.
As a hundred random attacks become a thousand, then hundreds of thousands, it soon becomes clear that everyone, irrespective of race, class, or any other difference, has the the potential to become a victim- or a Hater.
People are afraid to go to work, afraid to leave their homes, and increasingly, afraid that at any moment their friends, even their closest family, could turn on them with ultra-violent intent. Waking up each morning, no matter how well defended, everyone, must now consider the fact that by the end of the day, they might be dead. Or become a killer themselves. As the status quo shifts, "ATTACK FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER" becomes the order of the day...only, the answers might be far different than what you expect...
In the tradition of H.G. Wells and Richard Matheson, Hater is one man's story of his place in a world gone mad- a world infected with fear, violence and HATE.

This was a novel published a few years back. I contacted David in hopes of reviewing the novel. It took many months before I got my hands on it. David tried helping me and I contacted the publisher with no word. Luckily I was resourceful and used my previous contact of Katy Hershberger via Thomas Dunne Books who actually sent me the copies of Hater and Dog Blood. Without her help I wouldn't have been able to make the reviews possible.

The first thing that I want to say about this novel is that Guillermo Del Toro is turning it into a movie. Most people know him from Pan's Labryinth. I really enjoy his work and know that he will give the movie the credit it deserves. Another thing I would like to mention is the fact one of my previous reviews gave Hater a plug- David Wellington, another amazingly talented author.

This novel was an intense page turner from page 1 to page 281. I think of the book as a "Fight Club" on steroids. There's even a small, minute Alfred Hitchcock feel towards the end as well. My favorite sections were the Hater stories. Although they were my favorite stories, I am not sure which Hater side I'm on. Either way, I'm a Hater, as are you and everyone else!  This is a definite must read trilogy with books one and two currently in stores and book three on it's way.

Thanks again to David and Katy both for allowing me the opportunity to experience and review such a phenomenal piece of work. I can't wait to begin Dog Blood tonight.

Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings

In many ways, Natalie O'Reilly is a typical fourteen-year-old girl. An excellent student, she has many good friends and a family who loves her. But a routine visit to the eye doctor produces devastating news: Natalie will lose her sight within a short time.
Suddenly her world is turned upside down. Natalie is sent to a school for the blind to learn skills such as Braille and how to use a cane. Outwardly, she does as she's told; inwardly she hopes for the miracle that will free her from a dreaded life of blindness. But the miracle does not come, and Natalie untimately must confront every blind person's dilema. Will she go home to live scared? Or will she embrace the skills she needs to make it in a world without sight? Her decision does not come easily.

Still another ARC I had requested and Priscilla had sent me, along with an upcoming interview. This novel is geared to ages 10 and up. It is written in their pov as well, although it has a deeper adult feelining as well. One cool thing the author features in the back of the book is a Braille guide to help decipher some of the captions in the story.

As I read the story I had conflicting emotions. The characters blaise sense of humor to their conditions, with my outsider view- not out of pity, but I felt more of an aggravation that anyone should have to be in the position of being blind.

There were so many scenes that stuck out in this story. One of them that stuck out most with me was the scene with Arnab and Natalie on the bench. It was heartbreaking and the compassion between the two was so intimate in the not so typical way that it made me emotional. This was the scene that began the flow of all of the sad events to come throughout the novel.

I began to look out for, and notice the various Braille signs and plaques in my own community, throughout the time that I was reading this story. When I did encounter it I was highly appreciative for it. Before I was simply indifferent. This novel was an eye-opener for me and has brought about a great enlightenment towards the blind community.

Favorite quotes:
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, or even touched- they must be felt with the heart." - Helen Keller

"The thing was, if you wanted to survive you had to keep going...Even when it hurt. had to walk around the holes in your life, instead of falling through them."

Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan


Locke, California 1928. Three bedraggled Chinese women appear out of the mist in a small Chinese farming town on the Sacramento River. Two are unknown to its residents, while the third is the long-lost wife of Richard Fong, the handsome manager of the local gambling parlor. Left behind in China many years earlier, her unexpected arrival throws his already complicated life into upheaval. As the lives of the townspeople become inextricably intertwined with the newly arrived women, a premonition foretells a deep unhappiness for all involved. And when a flood threatens the village, the frightening power of these mysterious women is finally revealed.

This was another ARC I had requested. Shawna has allowed me the opportunity to review and interview her work. Originally I thought this was a debut author novel. In actuality it is a re-release under a new title. Previously the book was published in 2007 as Locke 1928. The cover image above is of the original publication, not of the one I was sent.

The lack of quotations during character conversations made this a hard novel to read for me. I was driven to read this because of the Asian culture that I am so intrigued by. The novel doesn't fall short on rich, cultural history. There were so many characters and stories intertwined amongst flash-backs. I think this was another thing that made it a difficult read for me.

There was one particular scene between the characters Alfred & Chloe. As I read it, it was so close to being like the shopping scene with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I don't know if that was an inspiration or simply just a coincidence.

Upon completion of Water Ghosts I am still confused if the women on the boat were ghosts of a mental or physical apparitions? While I am not putting down the novel, I think that if the book was written in a different aspect I could have enjoyed it more to its capacity I am sure it was meant to be. Thanks again to Shawna for allowing me to review this story and interview her as well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Feathered Serpent by Junius Podrug

December 21, 2012

The fabeled Feathered Serpent, harbinger of the apocalypse, has begun his relentless ascent out of the bowels of the earth.
Beautiful astrobiologist and archaeologist Caden Montez is on his trail. Caden is in Teotihuacan, the ancient ruin she believes is the best site on earth to find evidence of visitation by aliens in ancient times. While exploring the "City of the Gods"- a place so eerie it terrified even the most ferocious Aztecs-she discovers that the Serpent has broken free of its two-thousand-year entombment.
Ancient Mayan priests prophesied that when the Feathered Serpent returned, he would open the gates to the End Time.
The Mayans's Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse is on the move, and humanity's survival hangs in the balance. Caden must stop the beast and is helped by someone who had once battled it: Tah-Heen, a champion in the gladitorial ball courts where the "game of life and death" was played- and the loser sacrificed- two-thousand-years ago.
A stranger in a strange land when a secret program brings him across the gulf of time, Tah-Heen teams with Caden to battle the diabolical foe that destroyed an entire civilization-and has come back with a vengeance.
History, mystery, cutting-edge science, and suspense unfold as the scientist and the warrior battle a preternatural beast that is intent upon bringing about the 2012 apocalyptic vision.

This was another ARC request that I had asked for. Junius so kindly sent it to me and autographed it as well. As I began to read it, the first chapter made me recall my childhood ambition of becoming an archaeologist "when I grow up." The story makes me think of X-Files meets the History Channel. The chapter/book set up makes it an easy and enjoyable read for anyone.

There was a portion where the author actually noted a reference to his previous novel, which I think was a great idea for any one unfamiliar with any of his novels. It features a whole load of historically educational flashbacks. I liked the fact that Tah-Heen had a background story (which was a good portion of the novel). Tah-Heen's character is written with such a great combination of humor and naive-ity. The combining of Tah-Heen's story with present day meshed quite well without causing the reader any forms of confusion.

Not only was the story educational, but it also was ecologically and conservationally, (If that's even a word), thought provoking. The Feathered Serpent is another novel I would recommend to any historical or historical fiction fans out there. As I read this book everyone kept claiming, "I loved the movie!" I do believe that this is NOT the novel based off the Nicholas Cage movie. Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm just not wanting any of my readers to assume it is, read the novel and be upset for the confusion.


My Ultimate Sister Disaster by Jane Mendle

Franny, 14, thinks her older sister got the better deal. Zooey is a beautiful, statuesque ballerina with a cool name. Franny is not quite five feet tall, has no talent for anything, hair that never cooperates, and, let's face it, a horrible name (the girls' parents discussed J. D. Salinger's work on their first date). Though they were close as children, the sisters now spend little time together and argue when they're in the same room. With their anthropologist mother in Kenya and their father spending long hours working in his clothing store, Franny feels more alone than ever. When Zooey breaks her leg during rehearsals for a career-making role and is homebound for weeks, the sisters get to know one another all over again. It turns out that Zooey's life isn't so perfect. There are many elements to this novel, but ultimately the story is about sisters and misconceptions. Franny is immediately likable and sympathetic, and Zooey's diva-tude is conveyed perfectly, as is her gradual regression to typical teen when she's sidelined from dancing. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti will enjoy this lighter tale of teen drama.

This was another ARC request. I enjoyed the ease and flow of the chapters. It made the book very easy to read. This novel brought to mind my own recollections of sibling rivalry and various pointless arguments with my own parents, among other aspects of my own teenage years.

My Ultimate Sister Disaster is the type of book that tweens and teens alike would select from their school book orders or even book fairs. The story did jump around at certain points from one topic to another. However the age group it is geared for, I think, will be oblivious to this and will not affect their opinion on the novel itself. Overall I enjoyed this quick and relaxing read.

Favorite quote:
"Life sort of gets out of hand when everything and everyone in it has to be special."


The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer

Kate and Michael, twenty-something housemates working at the same Trader Joe's supermarket, are thoroughly screwed when people start turning into zombies at their house party in the Oakland Hills. The zombie plague is a sexually transmitted disease, turning its victims into shambling, horny, voracious killers.

Thrust into extremes by the unfolding tragedy, Kate and Michael are forced to confront the decisions they've made, and their fears of commitment, while trying to stay alive. Michael convince Kate to meet him in the one place in the Bay Area that's likely to be safe and secure from the zombie hordes: Alcatraz. But can they stay human long enough?

This was yet another ARC request. And another of my zombie reviews for Zombies vs Vampires. The Loving Dead without any doubt in my mind puts a new trend on a majorily outdated genre. Amelia weaves many aspects into the story without jeopardizing its entirety: Ikea, lesbian zombies joining the mile high club on a Zeppelin, economic crises, iPhones, Indiana Jones iPhone whip application, Halo, Alcatraz, Jenna Jameson, and so many more tangible things (well...excluding lesbian zombies).

The time frame of the final chapter frustrated me at first. Because I expected further details. In the end, however, I was happy with the results. This is a novel I'd recommend to any of my friends and fellow avid readers.

Favorite quotes:
"Gay guys, they got it easy. Everybody knows they're gay: they're the only guys who style their hair and when they check each other out, you know what they're thinking."

"Fighting the zombie apocalypse with whips & gags seriously. They obey whips. Also the iPhone Indiana Jones app. Worth a dollar."

"Every relationship will fail until one doesn't. So I've heard."

"I'd just about murder someone to be held."


The Vampire And The Virgin by Kerrelyn Sparks

Her packing list:

His packing list:
(because even vamps have to stay in shape!)

FBI psychologist Olivia Sotiris is looking for a cool ocean breeze, sand between her toes, and a break from her crazy, chaotic, and sometimes all-too dangerous life Robby MacKay is on an enforced vacation, since all he can think about is revenge against the Malcontents who had tortured him. But when Robby meets Olivia, all he can think about is the beauty with the tempting smile...and their nights together and anything but cool...

This was another ARC I had requested. Kerrelyn sent me the book autographed and included a bookcard and a bookmark as well. This is the first of the vampire reviews for the Zombie vs Vampire reviews for August.

The first thing I liked about this novel was the fact of the bat graphics featured at the beginning of each chapter. The budding romance between Olivia and Robby urges the reader to run a red light! The hilarious sexual innuendos are just amazing. The author's sense of creativity with vampire food and beverage items: Bleer, Blisky Chocolood, Bubbly Blood, and Bleer Lite.

I did find it hard at first to decipher Robby's words. After a while tho, I did figure out what he was saying and just basically began reading it as english. I also enjoyed the featuring of Carlos being a were-jaguar and other paranormal characters.

I am unsure if this is the last book in a series, of if it's just the end to a series with unrelated characters . Either way the dilema with Casmir was never resolved. Unless the story evolves into a new one, the Casmir dilema should have been extended to a solution positively or negatively.

This was another book that as the pages came to an end that I was hesitant on the ending. Luckily it wasn't a bad ending. I really enjoyed the story. I can definitely see myself pursuing my book readings from Ms. Sparks.

Favorite quotes:
"Not all lies are bad. It is the intent to decieve that is bad."

"The language of love doesn't have words.

"Death doesna change a person's nature."


Dust by Joan Frances Turner

It started with George Romero, but then it almost always does. Friday night, October sometime in the mid-1990s, and the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead was the only thing on television. I'd never seen it and had no particular interest in zombies, but the only alternative was my contracts law textbook so why not? And from the moment poor doomed Johnny solemnly intoned "They're coming to get you, Bar-buh-rah!", the movie had me, and it kept me, and the ending was a punch in the gut. The grainy black and white, the clumsy acting, the slapdash storyline and foolish self-destructive characters and almost nonexistent special effects weren't deterrents, they were the whole point. It all looked like ancient footage from some amateur documentary, and real people act foolish at the worst possible times. I never saw the remake, or any of the sequels: It wasn't the idea of zombies, themselves, that had me, it was that particular story. I didn't seek out any other.

Flash forward to 2003, and Carnival of Souls. More cheap black and white, shot on a shoestring in the middle of nowhere, and when Mary Henry's hand emerged from the depths of a Kansas lake long after she should have drowned they had me, again. Were those technically zombies, though, or were they ghosts? It had to be the former, for no ghost appears in the flesh as she did, walks among the living almost but not quite one of them, inspires their unwitting yet visceral disgust: They could, so to speak, smell the decay all inside her. That fascinated me, as did the titular carnival at the Saltair Pavilion. Zombies like to dance, it turns out, to eerie, calliope-style music that seems to come from nowhere. Interesting.
What George Romero started Herk Harvey finished, and I couldn't get zombies, themselves, out of my mind. They were ubiquitous, actually, when you started paying attention, but the more I learned about zombies and the popular imagination the duller and less satisfying it all was. Zombies, it turned out, were nothing but a joke. Talk funny. Walk funny. Ugly. Smelly. Filthy. Can't speak English right. Eat disgusting food. Spread disease. Mentally inferior. Lights on, nobody's home. They'll steal and devour everything you hold dear, including yourself. Shoot them. Kill them. Cleanse the earth of their kind. It's a moral imperative.

I was urged at every step, in this particular mythology, to ally myself with The Good Guy, the clean upright English-speaking human alpha male and his ragtag gun-toting buddies who were making the world safe for the One True Species, one bullet-riddled skull at a time. The hell with that. Zombies--actually, Jessie's absolutely right, let's dispense with that misappropriated West African word--the undead are nothing but people who died. Your mother, "Good" Guy, your spouse, your sibling, your child, your friend, your neighbor, you yourself, and what if you only think they're all monsters? What if dead people still have minds of their own, can laugh and fight and form friendships and love each other and grieve--and kill, as you do, for malice and sport as much as from hunger? What if the moans and groans you hear are an actual language? What if the undead have a "life" span, slowly aging and decaying and crumbling into dust just as inert bodies do in the coffin? What if the creature in your crosshairs still remembers you, loves you, can't plead for what you once were to each other before you pull the trigger?

(For that matter, what if your incredibly tedious guns don't even do the job? That's the first determination I made when I sat down to write Dust, that there would be no Deus Ex Firearms whatsoever. Fire itself, that'd work to kill them, but then fire has the disadvantage of spreading like, well, wildfire. As does bio-weaponry, but then we're getting ahead of ourselves.) If Dust could be summed up in one sentence, it would be a lyric from Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: "The history of the world, my sweet, is who gets eaten and who gets to eat." It presupposes a world where the living dead are not some new aberration but have existed alongside the humans they once were for thousands of years, an uneasy harmony occasionally broken up by unfortunate incidents such as, say, the famous Pittsburgh Massacre of '68. Other elements came into play: the Greek myth of Erysichthon, which haunted me since I first read it as a child, about a man the gods punish for his hubris with a hunger so insatiable he ultimately devours...himself. Luc Sante's beautiful, unsentimental prose poem "The Unknown Soldier," in which the forgotten dead assert their right to speak for themselves. The eerie photographs and morbid newspaper clippings from Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip. The unsettling banjo music in the end credits of the cult horror film The Last Broadcast, which inspired the notion that the undead express their strongest emotions through telepathic music: "brain radios." That and eerie waltzes in Carnival of Souls inspired the spontaneous psychic dances, the only moments of true peace and harmony the undead ever enjoy.

Eating, in this world, is identity: The living eat dead meat. The dead eat meat so recently living that it's still warm and pulsing with life. The dead find the living's dietary habits as abominable, disgusting, taboo as the reverse. Every human alive, in our world as well as theirs, pins a far greater part of their self-image than they realize on what goes into their mouths. It was a joke then that Jessie, the fervent vegan in life, began a ravenous flesh-hunter in death, and yet it was also entirely to be expected.

Armed with the facts--such as they were--in September 2003 I jotted down a sparse page of disjointed notes: character names, story locales (the Calumet Region of northwest Indiana, besides being my easily accessible home geography, was both underserved in fiction and had enough urban-suburban-rural-industrial variety to make it interesting), a little folkloric rhyme the undead liked to sing amongst themselves but never made it into the book. The slang--"hoo" for humans, "rotter" and "feeder" and "bloater" and " 'maldie" for each other--also came early because it was fun to think up. Jessie simply walked in right at the start and announced herself, an angry, lonely girl abused in life, abandoned in death, yearning for love and acceptance but furious at the world. It was inevitable she'd take instantly to the jarring, aggressive, insatiably hungry culture of the undead, also inevitable that she'd write off her human family entirely only to have them return to be her undoing. Joe started as a parody, one of those "teen angel" hoods-with-a-heart-of-gold from the fifties pop songs who dies in a drag race gone wrong, and then he surprised me by showing himself as lonely and yearning as Jessie, if not more so, under the brutal surface. It was inevitable, again, that they'd both fall in love. Florian, a literal walking skeleton, was always meant to be the paterfamilias of Jessie's surrogate family, but I never expected him to turn out gentle, genuinely wise, the only true parent she ever really had.

Actually they all surprised me, as I worked little by little on draft one, draft two, draft three through 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. Renee, the lamb thrown into a pit of snarling wolves, grew up amazingly fast and became not just Jessie's friend, but her ally. Linc--only kindhearted from Jessie's perspective, no human would want to run into him--was supposed to be merely Joe's foil, the "geek" to his "jock," but then quietly, stubbornly, relentlessly worked his way up from the margins of the story to the center. Teresa, the gang leader, was even more selfish and cruel that I'd imagined. (The rival gang the Rat Patrol were exactly as selfish and cruel as I'd imagined, so at least I had some control over the proceedings.) Lisa, Jessie's neurotic mess of a human sister, proved she could be there for Jessie in death as she never was in life. Jim, her brother, began as the most cardboard sort of villain, missing only a mustache to twirl, then I remembered that the truest antagonists are those who genuinely believe they're acting out of kindness and love. Only when Jim tried to "save" Jessie, did it become clear how much he--like all Good Guys--utterly feared and despised what she'd become. Death him/her/itself, the trickster, the demon, the angel, the destroyer, the salvager, was there from the beginning, though he didn't announce himself right away to me any more than to Jessie: Like any trusting parent, he first and foremost wanted to let his undead children try and fend for themselves.

Since the first inspiration for Dust was a pair of B-movies, other midnight drive-in fixtures seemed entirely appropriate: The meteor that causes extraterrestrial chaos upon landing. The semi-secret laboratory with "noble" purpose gone horribly wrong. The pandemic plague--but why just consider what would happen if the living became undead, why not consider what might happen if the undead were brought back to life? Untouchable life, even? What if Death the trickster, in his eagerness to consume the earth, thus ultimately ended up tricking himself?

It's all well and good to talk about Herk Harvey and banjos and falling meteors, but what truly inspired Dust was of course my own fear of death. There's another song, by the musician Exuma, that embodies it: "You won't go to heaven, you won't go to hell/You'll remain in your graves with the stench and the smell." What if the "afterlife" took place right on earth, and you rotted slowly, inexorably, feeling the first bugs nest and hatch on your body? What if you actually had to watch your loved ones grieving you, as Jessie and Renee both did, and be yards away and yet an eternity removed, unable now to be anything to them but a monster? What if pain, fear, longing, grief, the hungers of the body don't stop when life stops? What if Death isn't an angel of mercy, but a real live son of a bitch?

As it turns out, then, for me as for everyone else the undead were an embodiment of fear. But they surprised me, yet again, by becoming embodiments of hope as well. Life doesn't end after death, not really. To become something new, alien, unimagined, is not to lose oneself, one's identity and thoughts and needs and wants, they just express themselves a little differently. Nobody's lost to anyone forever; if there is no afterlife, there is at least the "eternity" of memory. To lose one family is to gain another. Betrayal by loved ones can lead to new, stronger bonds that are about real trust. Nearly everyone's stronger and more capable than they imagine, when put to the test. Flesh is just flesh and if it rots, well, that's only natural.

But that's all very Hallmark Hall of Fame and ultimately it was also about having some fun whistling in the graveyard. Dust was a chance to play with all sorts of notions of life and death: ordinary mortal existence, living consciousness trapped in dead decaying bodies, seemingly "live" flesh rotting and dying from the inside out, invulnerable immortality through the back door. As Jessie says, "How many kinds of living and dead and living dead and dead living had I been in just these few months, these few days, after the stasis of plain old human living and dying? I deserved some kind of existential medal." Tell me about it, it was hard to keep up. It also felt like finding the pulse of something real, and true, about life and death under all the campiness of traditional zombie mythology. Both the B-movie folklore and the insomniac anxieties inspired the book in equal measure, and both deserve their due. It starts with a silly story, some actors shuffling around sideways in worn-out clothes, and ends with real people, real fears, real hopes. But then, it almost always does.
--Joan Frances Turner (taken from

This was an ARC I had requested which turned out to be a traveling ARC. This is also a part of my Zombie vs Vampire month of reviews. I think that Joan has a great twist on zombie fiction. This was told from the zombie pov. The role reversal makes the reader sympathize more with the zombies than the humans. She manages to give the zombies a "life" and personality.

It took me a while to get through the novel. There was parts where it seemed monotanous and never ending but in the end I did appreciate the fact Joan so kindly gave me the opportunity for this review. I think because of my lack of zombie experience my review, IMO, seems biased. Although I would like to say that if you're a die hard undead fan, as many of my friends are, you will appreciate Joan's magical journey into the mind and "life" of these undead characters and the society they manage to make for themselves.

Favorite quotes:
"...but I was tired and my bullshit tank was down to fumes."

"I hate people who can make you feel guilty when they've pissed you off..."


Dead Set Anthology (edited) by: Joe McKinney & Michelle McCrary

The Dead Have Risen!

We were once a race seven billion strong. But today, our world has become a wasteland overrun by the living dead. Rivers of zombies flood the streets. They never rest. They never relent. Their hunger for the living is insatiable. And with every careless mistake we make, their numbers swell.

Scenes from the end of the world...

Michelle McCrary and Joe McKinney have brought together twenty original tales of the end of our world from horror's brightest talents. Within these pages you'll find a madman longing for the good old days of Hometown America, a company that deals in the dead, a radio DJ who holds the living together with her voice, and a soldier haunted by the living and the dead alike. This is the end of the world as you've never seen it before.
Featuring stories from Lisa Mannetti, Lee Thomas, Bev Vincent, Harry Shannon, David Dunwoody, Nate Southard, Boyd E. Harris, and a host of others, Dead Set will take you on a guided tour through the ruins. The zombie story has finally come of age.

This was a first for me. I haven't done an anthology review yet. This is also the start of August's Zombie vs Vampire month.

Resurgam by Lisa Manneti:
I would have liked the story to focus on Auden & Sheri or Cruncher & Sykes or just have the past & present come together more fluidly. Also, you have no clue what happened to Sheri?

Jailbreak by Steven W Booth & Harry Shannon
This was a fun read. It was written iin a John Carpenter style.

Recess by Rob Fox
A new twist on zombies. Occasionally you see zombie children featured in film and novels. But never soley focused on them like this story.

Biting The Hand That Feeds You by Carrie Voorhis
Hilarious. Morbid. Sad.

Judgement by Stephanie Kincaid
Almost seemed lik you weren't going to read anything about any undead. The ending was very abrupt.

Hatfield the Usurper by Matthew Louis
Read like a movie. Favorite quote: "He could almost smell the waft off the pages of a newly opened paperbac, almost see the typeface racked up in wonderful rows and clumped in intoxicating paragraphs..."

Ruminations From Tri-Omega House by David Dunwoody
Good story, I likedthe Richard Matheson reference. But it wasn't explained- did Prof. Rand bite Larry before the story began? When Rand was chasing Larry it didn't seem like he got to him?

Zombies On A Plane by Bev Vincent
Not much to say on this one. I didn't care for it one way or another. Like a story without a plot to it.

Category Five by Richard Jeter
Not a fan of this one either. The zombie interaction was too minimalistic for even a short story.

Survivors by Joe McKinney
Written with some action-packed intensity as Dead City (previous review). Balls to the wall fun!

Piere & Remy Hatch A Plan by Michelle McCrary
Good "ol' fashioned" zombie story y'all!

Recovery by Boyd E Harris
Fun but sad story. Features B rated movie sense of humor. Adopting recovering zombies almost like pets- hilarious!

In the Middle of Poplar Street by Nate Southard
Fun story but I wished the ending would have been more lengthy. Did Ginny kill the zombie? Or did the zombie kill her? Favorite quote: "...scared people get angry because they don't like being afraid, and they think it's somebody else's fault that they were so scared in the first place."

Seminar Z by J.L. Comeau
Interesting story. Unsure whether I liked or disliked it. Another story that the ending was just...

Only Nibble by Bob Nailor
I was hesitant to like this one. The last sentence was my deciding factor, What a great story.

Inside Where It's Warm by Lee Thomas
Generic and typical zombie story, with a possible half zombie/half human. I'm not quite sure but that was my take it.

Survivor Talk by Mitchel Whitington
Another great story. One that didn't have a predictable ending Background story. Zombie action that didn't jeopardize the entirety of the story.

The Zombie Whisperer by Steven E Wedel
Fun, psychological twist. A definite entertaining read.

Good Neighbor Sam by Mark Onspaugh
Originally started out interesting but ...zzzzzzzzzzzz!!! I had to force myself to reread it for the sake of this review to get a more accurate opinion. The second time around it reminded me of House of Wax but with zombies/ It was based in Ohio with the mention of Lancaster, my hometown.

That Which Survives- Morgan Ashe
This was an ok story. A medical twist.

Overall I really enjoyed this anthology. Some of the stories made me wonder why I don't read more zombie fiction, while others confirmed why I do not. Those stories I think should have been omitted for the sake of the novel's entirety and substituted for some more worthy ones.

Thanks again to Joe McKinney for sending me this gift.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

ON THE DAY SHE WAS ABDUCTED, Annie O'Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old realtor, had three goals-sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Through sessions with her psychiatrist, Annie retells the terrifying story of the year she spent captive in a remote mountain cabin. Interwoven is a second narrative recounting the aftermath of her escape and her struggle to piece her life back together.

This is another novel that is way off from my typical reads, but it looked interesting and I am thankful that Chevy allowed me to give it a shot. I originally contacted Chevy and she had her publicist send me the ARC.

This story is written based on a nightmare the author had. I can't even begin to fathom the feelings that she had, but I think that in writing this novel it had to put her at ease in some sort or another. As I began reading the story the song "Jesus Take The Wheel" by Carrie Underwood came to mind. The main character Annie has so many things that she is forced to overcome. Although Annie is fictional, her emotions and feelings portrayed throughout the story are so vivid that you're not just reading them, it's like you're feeling them yourself.

There's also a sickening reality to David's character. There are so many fucked up souls out in the real world which makes David so easily terrifying for any reader. The story is written in almost two combined novels in one. The sessions with Annie and her psychiatrist and the time after the fact ofher brutal and disturbing kidnapping. As you read, the novel weaves both points of view into one. When the pieces finally come together it was a shock at why and how Annie's events all came into play.

There were two scenes that I had taken note of. The first is the part when Annie and Luke hug. This is the first intimate moment after her tragic events. For me this scene had such an overwhelming surge of sadness. The second scene was when Gary & Annie have sex. I was particularly confused on this. I am not a victim of rape, a rapist, nor a psychiatrist. So I find it hard to believe fictional or otherwise that a rape victim would EVER want to have sex. The control thing made sense to me. The sex...not-so-much?!

If I were asked for a brief review (which we all know I don't do-often!) I would have to say this is one ROYALLY FUCKED UP novel worthy of a wonderful Lifetime movie adaptation! I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is written with such a profound no-holds-bar style of penmanship.

Favorite quotes:
"You can be as happy as you've ever been in your life, and shit is still going to happen. But it doesn't just happen. It knocks you sideways and crushes you into the ground, because you were stupid enough to believe in sunshine and roses."

" one is a lost cause, but I think that's bullshit. I think people can be so crushed, so broken, that they'll never be anything more than a fragment of a whole person."

Purchase novel here:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dead City by Joe McKinney

Battered by five cataclysmic hurricanes in three weeks, the Texas Gulf Coast and half the Lone Star State is reeling from the worst devastation in history. Thousands are dead or dying-but the worst is only beginning. Amid the wreckage, something unimaginable is happening: a deadly virus has broken out, returning the dead to life-with an insatiable hunger for human flesh...

Within hours, the plague has spread all over Texas. San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson finds his city overrun by a voracious army of the living dead. Along with a small group of survivors, Eddie must fight off the savage horde in a race to save his family...

There's no place to run. No place to hide. The zombie horde is growing as the virus runs rampant. Eddie knows he has to find a way to destroy these walking horrors...but he doesn't know the price he will have to pay...

This is a novel I had contacted Joe in order of doing a review. He not only sent me Dead City, but also Dead Set (a zombie anthology), a bookplate for both Dead City & Apocalypse of the Dead (Dead City sequel due out later this year). I will also be posting our interview with Joe when I begin resuming my author interviews in a few months.

This is also my first zombie review! Without a doubt this story has one intense action introduction. It was a page turner that I just didn't want to put down. The great thing about this novel- is the fact Joe weaves in all of the major contents of what a novel truly needs to make it pop! Comedy, sadness, drama, horror, action. There was not one slow point in the entire book. I was on the edge of my seat in suspenseful horror.

I can't wait for Apocalypse of the Dead to come out. I typically am not that big of a fan of zombies, but I think Joe has twisted my arm. Thanks again to Joe for allowing me this opportunity. Stay tuned next week for the Dead Set review, and details on a Joe McKinney contest for the month of August!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Darker Dream by Amanda Ashley


In all his four hundred years, Rayven had never met a woman like Rhianna McLeod. She was a vision of light, of warmth, of everything he was not-nor could ever be. Doomed to live forever in darkness and solitude, he knew all too well the risk in getting close to her, yet he hungered for her with a fierce passion he swore he'd never allow himself to feel.

Rhianna's father had sold her to Rayven to put food on the table-so she had no choice but to go with the dark stranger. To her surprise, he gave her everything she wanted-the finest clothes, education, and the run of the castle-everything, that is, except his touch. For although she sensed danger beneath his soft-spoken manner, although even Rayven himself warned her away, she was drawn to this creature of the night, and loved him, as she would no other.

I was shopping in the store sometime early this month and as I passed the book section, I spotted Mandy's book! I couldn't pass it up so of course I bought it, adding to my ever growing collection of Amanda Ashley novels. The thing that I liked most about this story was it's historical fiction outlook. Something about former centuries lifestyles eats up my curiousity. Which is what makes this novel good, the subtle vampyrism is just the foundation of the story. It revolves more around the times and the relationship between Rhianna & Rayven than it does on vampyrism.

Rayven's compassion to save Rhianna from public embarassment is just the beginning of proof that he is not the monster he thinks of himself. He provides her with a life of any and every thing she could ever want, and even then things she couldn't even imagine! Bevins' loyalty is the counterpart of Rayven's compassion. A human who would do anything for the man, or shall I say vampyre whom saved his life.

You constantly read about male vampires, but I was so happy to read, even briefly, Mandy's female vamp Lysandra, Rayven's sire. Just as I was contemplating the relationship of cat and mouse between Rayven and Rhianna, two pages verbatim Amanda writes those exact words! Of all Mandy's vamps I've read about, Rayven seems to have the most trouble coming to terms with who and what he is. It's not the same but it comes close to Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's, own personal demons. The ending was something I have hoped to read from so many vampire novels over the years, and I was finally given it!

I would have liked to read more on the wedding scene. It just seemed to short? The sex scenes were very minimal too, but in this novel it actually didn't take away from the story as you would think typical of Mandy's books. Hands down, no questions asked I of course loved this story. It has so many different things that you can find other great stories similarities: Romeo & Juliet, Beauty & the Beast, and it reminds me so much of the aura of Dark Shadows. A gothic vampire love story.

Favorite quotes:
"It was a pity that one so horribly cursed should be denied the one thing that might bring him happiness."

"I am never ill, my sweet. Only sick in mind and spirit."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Soul To Keep by Melanie Wells

As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits, and a staple gun...

It's psychology professor Dylan Foster's favorite day of the academic year- graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci's sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seem to lead nowhere. The police are baffled, but Christine's eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces in a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

This is the third book in a trilogy by Melanie Wells that I had requested in order of doing a review for. Unfortunately the publisher didn't care to respond to my inquiries not even a "sorry we don't do this." With that being said, I think I would have been able to enjoy this novel much more had I been able to review the first two in sequential order.

The opening of this story had a bright sense of humor that was only erupted by a lightning fast kidnapping and the beginning of a sad journey of characters. As I said above, this is definitely not one of them stand alone novels. I think to fully appreciate it you would have to start at the beginning. If you do, you would probably be able to understand more on Peter Terry. Is he a ghost? Demon? Figment of Dylan's imagination? Was he real- died and is now some kind of recurring stress factor????

Aside from the hippy humor, I realized quite quickly, throughout this novel, why it is that I am so obsessed with horror novels. The thought process is this: Other types of fiction can be so closely written to reality as is this story. It makes one fearful of what can actually and what does actually happen in the real world. In horror you have that safety in knowing that as morbid and graphic as the story is you know that in all of it's glory that it is PURELY fictional. Although this story does bring out a good topic that so many people religious or otherwise like to gnaw on. Do children have the capability of seeing things adults can not? Such as evil, good, angels and demons- literal or figuratively? I feel in my own beliefs there is no doubt that they do! Children just have this innate sense of knowing things that we as adults just can't grasp.

I felt the ending was one that can just take your breath away. For me as the book was drawing to a close, I felt as that moment when you lose your breath for so long, and then it suddenly comes rushing back at you with an overwhelming force. I really like this story. I only wished I had read books one and two first. I will without a doubt do that, hopefully soon!

Thank you again to Melanie for her kindness in allowing me to do this review for her.

Favorite quotes:
"Answering machines are secretly programmed to accept only messages from people you don't want to hear from."

"Love the hair. Hope you win!"

"My soul could use a can of Comet and some elbow grease."