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Monday, July 30, 2012

Haunting Obsession Cover Art Reveal


Head on over to the Seventh Star Press website today to check out the fantastic cover art and interior illustrations by Bonnie Wasson


Haunting Obsession is the latest R.J. Sullivan story featuring the character Rebecca Burton. The novella tells the story of Daryl Beasley, who collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl’s girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all.

Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta’s birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind—and a haunting obsession he’ll never forget.

The softcover and eBook versions will be released following the launch event for the novella on August 11th.

A hardcover edition (limited to 75 copies) of Haunting Obsession is now available for pre-order. The limited hardcover edition will be signed and numbered by R.J. Sullivan, includes a bonus illustration from Bonnie Wasson, and will be accompanied by an assortment of collectibles (including a set of glossy art cards, bookmarks, and a set of buttons).

There's also a book tour coming up to celebrate the launch of Haunting Obsession, so be sure to stop back as I host R.J. Sullivan here on August 28th.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hardcover Review: Ripper by David L Golemon

The Event Group is a secret US government agency, led by Major Jack Collins, that has been tasked with eliminating those threats that many of us dismiss as myth, conspiracy, or sheer fiction. Having first appeared in Event, where the aliens of Roswell were the focus, the team has carried on through to this, their seventh adventure. In Ripper, as the you may guess from the title, David L. Golemon has made Jack the Ripper (or, more accurately, his legacy) the focus.

It's always dangerous to mess around with world history, especially when you're embellishing it with fictional history, but Golemon takes a smart approach here. His book is equal parts science-fiction drama, comic book adventure, and blockbuster action flick. Unlike so many authors who try to imbue these kinds of stories with some sort of artificial significance, or thought-provokingly topical relevance, Golemon simply invites us to grab a bag of popcorn, suspend our disbelief, and enjoy the ride.

The novel begins by introducing us to the 'real' Jack the Ripper, an American scientist who is both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In fact, it's Robert Louis Stevenson himself who tips off Scotland Yard as to the Ripper's identity, much to the displeasure of the Americans . . . and Queen Victoria. Skip ahead a hundred years or so, and we meet the members of the Event Group working to recover the lost notes and samples of the Ripper - who, as it turns out, was largely responsible for shaping the latter stages of Patton's career. In terms of sheer audacity, it's one hell of a way to begin a story, but I loved it.

Detractors of the series will complain that the heroes and villains here are somewhat stereotypical, and that the dialogue is definitely cheesy at times. So what? This isn't high literature, it's the literary equivalent of a summer blockbuster! The heroes are likeable, admirable, and well-worth rooting for. Similarly, the villains are absolutely despicable, but they're damned entertaining. I daresay I can recite more lines of dialogue from this book than any I've read this year, and fellow readers recognize them immediately.

This is a story that's full of action, imagination, and even some morbid humour. The writing is solid, the pacing is quick, and the twists are almost as much fun as the cliffhangers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am definitely ready for more.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

eBook Review: Circe by Jessica Penot

I'm always up for a good haunted house tale, and when that haunted house happens to be an old psychiatric hospital . . . well, consider me intrigued. I've been disappointed on more than one occasion when the haunting was passed off as just a psychotic delusion, or the craziest of the patients were exonerated by the presence of the supernatural, but everything I read about Circe suggested that Jessica Penot wouldn't settle for either easy out.

I still had my doubts, especially around the mid-point, but Jessica ultimately provided a reasonable balance between the two worlds.

There were two aspects of the book that really sold me on the story - the atmosphere and the characters. This is a very dark, claustrophobic feeling book, and one that weighs heavily upon the reader. It's the kind of book that feels as if it should be read in a darkened corner, preferably with a storm battering against the windows, no matter how much you may feel the need to escape into the open sunshine. Jessica does a masterful job of situating the reader within the corridors of the hospital, so much so that you can smell the mould and the disinfectant, and feel the rough textures beneath your fingertips.

As for the characters, they're not particularly likeable, but they're strong and fully-realized - something I can truly appreciate. David doesn't start out as a bad guy, just an ambitious, well-meaning young man with a significant flaw. He's actually introduced as being deserving of our sympathy, so it's quite a shock when we see him selfishly engage in some anonymous, no-strings-attached, alleyway sex. As for what happens later . . . well, let's just say this man has issues. His wife is an interesting character, a woman who balances herself between cultures, but she doesn't have much of a role to play (which is a shame). Cassie is a great character, dangerously seductive, but charismatic and captivating enough to overcome the reader's better judgement. You know damn well she won't be good for David, but you can't help but be perversely fascinated by the paths down which she leads him.

I'm pleased to say the story didn't develop quite as I had expected, which is always refreshing. I thought I had the ending figured out, but Jessica packs a few nice twists and turns into the story before she lets us go.


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Jessica Penot Online:



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paperback Review: The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells

Rowena Cory Daniells is an author I've had my eye on for a while now, ever since Besieged (the first book in her Outcast Chronicles) made my Waiting on Wednesday list  back in May. So, when she reached out to me last month to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing both trilogies, I jumped at the chance.

The King's Bastard is the first volume in her King Rolen's Kin trilogy, and it packs enough unique touches (not to mention surprises) in the first dozen chapters to immediately make it one of those stay-up-late, can't-put-down, just-one-more-chapter kind of reads. At its heart, this is a story of conflict, the kinds of conflict that can divide friends and families, as well as empires. It's also a story of outcasts and undesirables, of the unwanted and the unneeded, an approach that serves to attract (rather than alienate) the reader.

In terms of plot, there's a lot about this first volume that will be familiar to any long-time reader of fantasy, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. We have a King who has become complacent, leaving him blind to the cracks in his empire; feuding heirs to the throne (Byren & Lence), once friends who are being slowly driven apart by jealousy; a pair of younger siblings (Fyn & Piro) with a power and a future of their own, but no right to rule; and a Queen who is full of secrets, the heir to an unwanted legacy that threatens everything. It sounds very much like your standard medieval fantasy soap opera, but there are several elements that elevate it above the competition.

Even if the elements are familiar, however, the characters themselves are very well developed. Byren, Fyn, and Piro (our three POVs within the novel) are likeable, admirable characters to whom we can relate, and for whom we naturally find ourselves cheering. Lence, Cobalt, and Rejulas are equally unlikable, but characters with motivations that we can understand . . . even if we don't have to like them. Orrade is, by far, one of the most intriguing supporting characters I've come across in years, and I suspect the Queen may have more potential than we've seen so far.

Those conflicts I mentioned earlier? Rowena does a masterful job of balancing them against one another, using them not just to illuminate each other, but to force the reader into confronting their own prejudices. Rolencia is a kingdom where where being naturally touched by forbidden magic or sexuality is more worthy of scorn and derision than deliberately choosing to be cruel, treacherous, or ambitious. Ultimately, it is the shameful taint of his own family, along with the unrequited love of his best friend, that places Byren at the centre of so much conflict - and it's his own reaction to both that elevates him above his brother.

In terms of world-building, The King's Bastard offers a lot to appreciate, but it's the little touches, like armies skating upon the frozen canals or Affinity-touched beasts stalking the forests, that shine brightest here. There's no artificial attempt to create huge pantheons of gods and goddesses, or any needlessly complex allegorical story of creation. Instead, the mythology of the world is simple, effective, and genuine, intertwined with the presence of Affinity. Similarly, the genealogy is largely straightforward, forgoing the exhaustive family trees and legacies that often bog down these stories, in favour of just enough political marriages and well-documented bastards to add some necessary colour.

While I found the dialogue in a few scenes to be a bit too much like that of a soap opera, it generally works quite well. Much like the mythology, it comes across as genuine, with none of the grandiose speeches that so often seem out of place, inserted only to impress the reader. The narrative itself is solid, colourful where it can be, but also restrained where it needs to be. More than anything, however, it is the pacing that you really notice here. Rowena keeps the story moving, propelling the reader from one chapter to another. While this is by no means a light or insignificant read, it is a very quick one, which is always welcome when dealing with a 640 page tome.

If I were to have one complaint about the story, it's that the characters sometimes delay too long in delivering important information. On the one hand, it's entirely reasonable to expect that they might be distracted by urgent concerns, but there were a few instances where I found myself shaking the book because Bryen simply forgot to deliver some significant news. It's a minor quibble, and one that is largely limited to the beginning of the novel, but it annoyed me enough that I had to call it out. Having said that, Rowena smartly avoids relying on coincidence or deus ex machina to drive the climax of this first volume, which is refreshing.

All-in-all, a good, solid, page-turning read, and one that has a lot to offer for fans of traditional fantasy. I rarely read series books back-to-back anymore, but I'm already eager to get started in on The Uncrowned King.

Waiting On Wednesday: Krampus The Yule Lord by Brom

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head. I am coming to take back what is mine, to take back Yuletide...

"One Christmas Eve" in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, a failed songwriter named Jesse witnesses a strange spectacle: seven thugs cloaked in black attacking a man in a red suit with a sleigh. When Jesse steps in to help, the mysterious figures all disappear, leaving behind a large sack - a magical bag that will plunge the down-on-his luck songwriter into a thrilling adventure. The bag turns out to be the property of Krampus, the ancient trickster demon who punishes the wicked-and Jesse's new master who will teach him things about the man in red he didn't know, including how a half a millennium ago, the cherry-cheeked jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic.

But Santa's time is running out, for the former Yule Lord is determined to destroy his enemy and reclaim his holiday. Now, Jesse has the chance to save his daughter and his own broken dreams ...and return wild magic to all the impoverished folk of Boone County. (Oct 30, 2012)


What can I say - this one appeals to the Nightmare Before Christmas fan inside me. It sounds to be just dark, twisted, and imaginative enough to make for the perfect Halloween read.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

GUEST POST with Gianna Perada (author of Blood Life)

The Battling of the Muses
by Gianna Perada

Last night I got to thinking how crazy must I sound to people when they ask me about the next book I’m writing. First, I tell them that the next book is actually Book One in the vampire series I’m working on. “What?” Then I try to explain to them how Devendra, the heroine of Blood Life, kept chattering at me (picture my arms up next to my face mimicking chattering mouths with my hands), keeping me up at night until I agreed to write her story? Crazy much? Seriously, when I say it out loud, I do feel like I sound a little nuts, especially in the moment of silence it produces to the unknowing or understanding person. There’s a look in their eye, a faint glimmer of a question, but it never comes.

Do I really care if they think I’m weird? No. I mean in all honesty, as a writer, I know this is normal behavior. I realize that without Devendra’s constant chattering, I’d have no story. Doesn’t matter how creative I think I am or can be, without her as an inner voice, a character to channel, I’d more likely be a dry well. I have everything to thank her and the other characters for. They help my stories come to life. I don’t write outlines; I sit at my computer, wait for them to make an appearance, and my fingers move to their rhythm. Period.

Also, yesterday, it occurred to me that Z is trying to fight her way into the forefront. Z is a character from a completely different story called The Butcher’s Daughter. And she’s resurfacing too soon, as that book isn’t planned until late 2013 or so; Devendra is at center stage in my mind just now. Z is not a vampire or witch. There are still paranormal elements to her story because she is a gifted psychic profiler for the San Francisco Police Department’s homicide division (specializing in serial killings)… BUT SHE IS YET TO COME!

Her story is only in the infant stages, a whisper in my mind’s eye, sitting in the to-write filing cabinet. And although extremely important and close to my heart, Z needs to wait her turn. What to do, though? She’s been very demanding. She threw out some great ideas yesterday as I was having my eyebrows threaded (nice timing!) and I did not write them down if nothing else but to tell her NOT NOW. And as I sit here thinking about it, refusing to give her that moment to write down her musings only hurt me. I wonder if she will repeat herself?

But, alas, I still have two vampire books to write before I can get to her story. Unless I take a break after Devendra and piss off my readers by making them wait an extra year before Vampire Book Three comes out. Dare I chance it?


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ABOUT THE BOOK

Blood Life is a vampire/witch thriller full of blood, magic, love, violence, and sex. The witches and vampires of the fictional world of the Spectrum have united and created a race of half-breeds called the Combined. These are very powerful entities, but their race has been threatened by a rogue vampire with very old, powerful blood named Lokee, son of the Great Witch, Devendra. This story is about letting Fate play out, but in all its turmoil, trying to save one woman who will be the key to saving the Combined.

Can the Combined's strongest adversary form an army to defeat them, or will the power of three keep the race on top? Centered around the lives of four integral characters, Blood Life is a fresh and unique paranormal adventure. Meet Devendra, a powerful witch descended from one of the first lineages; Lokee, her son and worst enemy; Roman, her friend and companion; and Alethea, the key to it all...

Blood Life is a full-length paranormal horror novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal, dark fantasy, horror fiction, witches, vampires, and supernatural horror.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Signed Copy

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gianna Perada
Growing up in North Beach during the late 70s/early 80s, Gianna Perada fell in love with the written word at the tender age of 7. Her mother bought her a diary that year for Christmas, and instead of using it as a day-to-day ramble-fest, little Gianna used it to pen short stories with dark undertones and clever twists and turns, influenced by two of her favorite TV shows at the time: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and The Twilight Zone, and her favorite author, Edgar Allen Poe. Along came a fascination with horror films and the supernatural. She began writing Blood Life roughly 15 years ago and has rewritten it about 100 times since, having trouble letting it go. Working for several years as a copy-editor and book layout designer for small publishing houses and authors, she woke up the morning of March 15, 2012, looked over at her laptop, and finally said, "Today's the day I say goodbye to you." And so she did... she's got four cats, a rat dog, and an overwhelming workload. Working on the prequel to Blood Life, slated for release by Halloween, 2012. Stay tuned!

Where you can find Gianna:
Blog/Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TGIF - Feature & Follow Friday

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that is designed to provide some much-appreciated exposure to the bloggers participating, and to expand their following. Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, each of whom feature a chosen blog for the week, it's an interesting way to get to know one another.

Question of the Week: Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

So, two books, and cost isn't a factor? I'd have to go with the Dark Tower Omnibus (an oversized hardcover collecting the first five volumes of Marvel's Dark Tower series plus the Dark Tower Companion) and one of the Subterranean Press Brian Lumley editions - either the Fly-By-Nights or Necroscope: The Plague Bearer .

Parajunkee also hosts a Social Hop for Facebook and Twitter, which I regularly take part in. So, if you're one of those people who aren't on Blogger, or who just don't like Google Friend Connect, it's a great way to keep in touch and follow one another.

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TGIF is another blog hop designed to provide much-appreciated exposure to the bloggers participating, and to expand their following. Hosted by GReads, it's an interesting way to recap the week, pose a question, and find some exposure with a different audience.

Question of the Week: This week is a throwback to a previous question - Is there a particular author you wish got more recognition? Pick one author & tell us why we should read their work.

On the horror side, I'd have to go with Brian Lumley - yes, he's won a number of awards, and yes, he's reasonably well-known to horror aficionados, but he lacks the kind of mainstream acceptance that books like his Necroscope saga (and Vampire World offshoot) deserve. Seriously, this man knows how to do vampires right - by which I mean supernaturally evil and preternaturally vicious. 

On the fantasy side, I'd go with David B Coe - again, he's reasonably well-known to hardcore fantasy fans, but he doesn't get the widespread recognition that traditional fantasy epics like The Lon Tobyn Chronicles and The Winds of the Forelands deserve.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seventh Star Press Open House! - FREE BOOKS!


Seventh Star Press Open House is here!
Wednesday and Thursday we have 8 titles by six of our authors up for FREE on Amazon Kindle!  Invite friends, bloggers, and everyone you know to try out one or more of these novels and discover the wonderful authors that are part of the Seventh Star Press family!
The titles available with direct links to their Kindle pages are:
The Brotherhood of Dwarves (Book One of the Brotherhood of Dwarves Series.
Genre: Y.A. Fantasy
Author: D.A. Adams


Angelkiller  (Book One of the Angelkiller Triad)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author: H. David Blalock


Redheart  (Book One of the Leland Dragon Series)
Genre: Y.A. Fantasy
Author: Jackie Gamber


Overkill (An adventure of Gorias La Gaul
Genre: Sword and Sorcery
Author: Steven Shrewsbury


Cinema of Shadows (A Harmony, Indiana Novel)

Genre: Horror
Author: Michael West


Poseidon’s Children (Book One of the Legacy of the Gods Series)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author: Michael West


Crown of Vengeance (Book One of the Fires in Eden Series)
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Author: Stephen Zimmer


The Exodus Gate (Book One of the Rising Dawn Saga)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author: Stephen Zimmer


Waiting On Wednesday: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

In his internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed novel The Passage, Justin Cronin constructed an unforgettable world transformed by a government experiment gone horribly wrong.

With The Twelve, the story continues.

In the present day: As a man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos, desperate to find others, to survive, to witness the dawn on the other side of disaster. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, has been so broken by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced by loss of electrical power to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a minefield of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.

A hundred years in the future: Amy, Peter, Alicia, and the others introduced in The Passage work with a cast of new characters to hunt the original twelve virals . . . unaware that the rules of the game have changed, and that one of them will have to sacrifice everything to bring the Twelve down.

The scope widens and the intensity deepens as the epic tale of sacrifice and survival begun in The Passage surges forward in its breathtaking sequel—The Twelve. (Oct 16, 2012)


While The Passage didn't completely blow me away (I thought it was over-long, awkwardly paced, and a bit predictable), I enjoyed it enough to take a chance on the sequel.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

eBook ARC Review: The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby

There is almost nothing better than looking forward to an upcoming release from a favourite author, getting a chance to give it an early read, and finding out that it not only lives up to all your expectations, but completely exceeds them. The satisfaction is almost immeasurable.

I say almost, because there is one thing that really is better - stumbling across an upcoming release from an author you've never read before, picking it up entirely on a whim, starting the read with absolutely nothing in the way of expectations, and being completely blown away. If the satisfaction is almost immeasurable, than the pleasure is completely immeasurable.

Such is the case with The Corpse-Rat King by Lee Battersby.

Not only did I have no expectations of this one, I wasn't even sure I'd have time to give it a read. It was one of the newest electronic ARCs available to the Robot Army, so I snagged it alongside Adam Christopher's Seven Wonders, figuring I'd give it a cursory glance if I happened to get through the other before September rolled around. It just so happened that I was between books last weekend and, completely on a whim, I decided to give it a shot.

I think I was about 10 pages in before I knew I had something special on my hands.

What Battersby has concocted here is equal parts Bruce Campbell slapstick, Monty Python absurdity, and Terry Gilliam imaginative wonder, filtered through the same literary sense of the macabre as Jesse Bullington or Neil Gaiman. It's an extremely funny, extraordinarily imaginative tale, that never stops surprising the reader with where it's going next. Really, it's one of those novels where the less you know going in, the better the reading experience is likely to be.

Marius is one of the unlikeliest heroes I have encountered in a very long time. He's a greedy, self-centred, cowardly bastard . . . who just so happens to be clever, amusing, and embarrassingly likable at the same time. He's the kind of guy who will gladly stand at your side in the face of imminent danger, but only so he can pick your pocket and knock you down at the last moment to expedite his own getaway. He is a scoundrel in every sense of the word, but an entirely pragmatic one. While he does develop significantly over the course of the novel, demonstrating a tenderness of heart and soul, he remains delightfully despicable throughout.

The writing (and storytelling) here is absolutely top notch. Battersby has a very intimate, very casual way of telling a story, one that's more conversational than literary. He's entirely aware of the absurdities of his tale, and makes no apologies for them. Whereas some authors try too hard to justify, explain, or otherwise validate the comic elements of their tale, Battersby is content to let the humour work. What's more, he proves himself equally adept at elaborate set pieces of slapstick humour, quick throwaway gags, and ridiculous asides.

There's a particularly prolonged sequence of events that involves Marius walking across the bottom of the sea, attempting to scale a submerged shipwreck, and desperately trying to reason with the skeleton of a king who was already crazy before he inadvertently merged the bones of his horse with his own. It's a scene that should have fallen apart and worn out its welcome long before the hungry shark appears on scene, but Battersby makes it work so well, it's a shame to see it come to an end .

Similarly, whereas the various tangents and asides should begin to wear away at the reader's patience, you can't help but gleefully anticipate the next one. It was these half-pages that so often had me laughing out loud, or at least visibly smirking with glee.

"Discovered less than four hundred years ago by the famous Tallian adventurer “Literal” Edmund Bejeevers, the Dog Crap Archipelago lay like a giant turd across the passage between Borgho City and the Faraway isles. Early explorers found nothing there to recommend the place to anybody, and indeed, early maps show a simple ovoid outline with the words “Don’t Bother” written inside."

Even the throwaway gags, such as the "Secret passage closed due to repair works" sign, work better than any author has any right to expect. It's all about the balance between the humour and the story, and the simultaneous commitment to both, that makes it work. Battersby never allows one to suffer at the expense of the other, and never forgets to involve the reader emotionally as well as intellectually.

This was a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and will gleefully recommend, without reservation. Of course, Battersby has now placed himself within the first scenario I mentioned, so here's hoping The Marching Dead manages to exceed my expectations as well as The Corpse-Rat King managed to blow me away.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Stacking The Shelves and Mailbox Monday

Stacking The Shelves is a new weekly meme being hosted by Tynga over at Tynga's ReviewsStacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you've added to your shelves - physical and virtual, borrowed and bought. Mailbox Monday, meanwhile, is a similar meme being hosted by Mrs. Q. at Mrs. Q. Book Addict this month (check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see who's hosting next month).


The week got off to a good start with my copy of Ripper, the latest Event Group Thriller from David L. Golemon.


On the Ebook front, this week saw a slew of review titles - Reich by Donald Allen Kirch, The Human Condition (Song of the Ancestors Book 2) by John Grover, All the King's Hoodlums by Kenton Crowther, and Shudder by Harry F. Kane.


Best of all, the week ended on a great note with my signed copies of the King Rolen's Kin trilogy by Rowena Cory Daniells, including The King's Bastard, The Uncrowned King, and The Usurper . . . and an awesome bookmark.


How about you . . . what did add to the shelves this week?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

TGIF - Feature & Follow Friday

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop that is designed to provide some much-appreciated exposure to the bloggers participating, and to expand their following. Hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, each of whom feature a chosen blog for the week, it's an interesting way to get to know one another.

Question of the Week: What drove you to start book blogging in the first place?

I'll be perfectly honest - I got into blogging because I wanted access to free books before they hit the store shelves. I've always been an avid reader, loyal to my favourite authors, so the idea of being able to get a sneak-peek, to read something before anybody else, really excited me. Now that I've been blogging for a year, what I enjoy most is interacting with authors, and getting to know them off the page . . . but I still get excited when I see those ARCs on my doorstep. :)

Parajunkee also hosts a Social Hop for Facebook and Twitter, which I regularly take part in. So, if you're one of those people who aren't on Blogger, or who just don't like Google Friend Connect, it's a great way to keep in touch and follow one another.

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TGIF is another blog hop designed to provide much-appreciated exposure to the bloggers participating, and to expand their following. Hosted by GReads, it's an interesting way to recap the week, pose a question, and find some exposure with a different audience.

Question of the Week: Quotes That Make You Swoon - What are some of the most swoon-worthy quotes you've experienced in a book?

I'm not sure what qualifies as swoon-worthy (I'm really not one to read anything that involves swooning), so I'm just going to go with 2 quotes from my latest read struck me as quirky:


"Discovered less than four hundred years ago by the famous Tallian adventurer “Literal” Edmund Bejeevers, the Dog Crap Archipelago lay like a giant turd across the passage between Borgho City and the Faraway isles. Early explorers found nothing there to recommend the place to anybody, and indeed, early maps show a simple ovoid outline with the words “Don’t Bother” written inside."


"The wall that surrounds Scorby City is over twenty feet thick, although nobody has tried to invade in over three hundred years. It isn’t worth the effort. Any potential invader would be so quickly and effectively wrapped in red tape that signing the necessary permission forms just to rape and pillage – and those forms actually exist – would take up most of a season."

eBook Review: Vengeance of the Wolf by Solitaire Parke

What do you get when you cross the mystery of Criminal Minds with the politics of 24, and then cross that with the terror of Nightmare on Elm Street? Well, you get a story that's a bit uneven, and one which has trouble walking the fine line that is willing suspension of disbelief, but you also get one heck of an interesting read.

Vengeance Of The Wolf is the story of a political assassin who works through his target`s dreams. The story actually starts out with a bang-bang-bang immersion into those dreams, setting up a fantastic mystery of "how" when we discover that the deaths we witnessed don`t correspond to the physical evidence of the bodies. The very concept of being able to break every bone in the human body . . . from the inside . . . through a dream is creepy enough to compel any reader forward.

Enter Detective John Yardley and Agent Frank Williams, the two men charged with stopping the reign of terror before it reaches its ultimate target - the President of the United States. I hate to give away a plot twist, but since this one comes rather early, and since the book ultimately turns upon it, I have to saw I was shocked when they failed in their efforts. I couldn't see how anybody could stop the dreams so quickly, much less how the authorities could figure out the pattern with so little to go on, and was fully prepared for some cheesy bit of deus-ex-machina, followed by a mundane hunt-the-killer story.

Yes, I was shocked to see them fail, but also immensely satisfied to discover the book wasn't heading in the direction I feared.

Dorian is an interesting character, an almost likeable killer with whom you can`t help but sympathise. It takes a while before his motivation is fully revealed, but it worked for me, and really sold me on his cause. Celeste was definitely a surprise, and her role in the story was far from what I expected, based on our early, tantalizing glimpses. Yardley and Williams are a bit more stock in their make-up, and a bit harder to warm up to, but they definitely have the potential to carry a story (should there be another literary chance waiting).

Overall, it's a book that is more creepy than chilling, and one which moved a bit slow for my tastes (once the initial dream immersions were complete). I'm a bit on the fence as to the explanation of "how" Dorian enacted the murders, but it does work, even if it wasn`t necessarily the answer I was looking for.

A good, solid read, with an intriguing concept, and a nice flair for the macabre.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Only Superhuman by Christopher Bennett

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Only Superhuman by Christopher Bennet

2107 AD: A generation ago, Earth and the cislunar colonies banned genetic and cybernetic modifications. But out in the Asteroid Belt, anything goes. Dozens of flourishing space habitats are spawning exotic new societies and strange new varieties of humans. It’s a volatile situation that threatens the peace and stability of the entire solar system.

Emerald Blair is a Troubleshooter. Inspired by the classic superhero comics of the twentieth century, she’s joined with other mods to try to police the unruly Asteroid Belt. But her loyalties are tested when she finds herself torn between rival factions of superhumans with very different agendas. Emerald wants to put her special abilities to good use, but what do you do when you can’t tell the heroes from the villains?

Only Superhuman is a rollicking hard-SF adventure set in a complex and fascinating future. (Oct 16, 2012)


So, let's see - we have "rollicking hard-SF adventure" and a "complex and fascinating future" coupled with a heroine "inspired by the classic superhero comics of the twentieth century." Count me in!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY by Rowena Cory Daniells

Why I love the WWW (Or How the web set me free)
by Rowena Cory Daniells


I grew up on the Gold Coast in the 60s and 70s.

Me with my cat. In the background you can see the shed. We kept chickens and grew vegetables, went swimming every weekend.



Back then the Gold Coast was fibro shacks, surf, sun and sand. All very idyllic but lacking in any sense of permanence. Back then the Gold Coast was famous for metre maids.


These were girls (not women) who wore golden bikinis and dropped coins in your metre if it ran out, so that people didn’t get tickets. (As a child I didn’t want to grow up to be a metre maid, I wanted to be an astronaut).

The closest we came to history was this wreck on Stradbroke Island.


But of course, I’d never seen it. I’d heard the grown ups mention it in passing and no one seemed to know much about it. Back then, there was no way to find out anything. I suppose I could have gone to the library and asked, but I only remember going into the library once when I was about eleven, and I didn’t know you could ask librarians to find things. I didn’t know that there were people interested in history, trying to piece the past together. See here. (The Galleon they are talking about is not the wreck in the photo above. More on the galleon here).

Back then we had one bookshelf in our home and it contained a couple of books and some magazines. I read everything I could find. The only way I could see the world was through TV which was black and white and our local TV stations must have bought a couple of seasons of Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched and Hogan’s Heroes and just kept playing them over and over until I knew the dialogue off by heart and was close to gnawing off my leg in frustration.

To put it simply I was desperately hungry for anything that gave me a glimpse of the wider world.

In my early twenties I moved to Melbourne and opened a second-hand book and record shop. It was heaven. I could read all day long and talk to people about books. As soon as I found an interesting book I would devour it, and I’d keep it just in case I ever needed to refer to it again. Books were like treasures. The more I had, the richer I felt. Beautiful books on art. Books on science. Fantasy and SF books... In fact, it got to the point recently when I had to go through my shelves and cull my books. They were starting to block the windows.


Resorting to great ruthlessness, I sorted them into keep and give to the local second-hand bookstore piles. The second-hand bookstore gave me $500 credit. I’ve used it all up, plus every time I go to a convention I come back with a couple of hundred dollars worth of books.


Confession - It’s been over twelve months since I cleaned out my book shelves but they are stacked two rows deep again.

All of which brings me to why I love the internet. I can find out anything, at the click of a mouse. I know. It’s amazing...

Recently, I was writing a fantasy set in a dangerous tropical paradise and I needed to know how far the horizon was if you were sitting in a rowboat, then how far it was if you were up on the lookout of a sailing ship. It’s out there. The information is out there, all you have to do is look.

My ‘bookmark’ file on my web browser now looks like my bookshelves. There are hundreds of folders and subfolders with all sorts of amazing facts about the world. I love it that I can read the science blogs, and New Scientist. This is the kid who memorised the planets of the solar system when she found a book about it, just in case she never found the book again.

I love it that people put up pictures of cats with funny captions.


It is such a relief from the official news, which is all doom and gloom. The world can’t be such a bad place, when people love their pets.

I love it that I can find links like this - the Paris apartment that was locked up before World War two and only opened again recently. (There’s a romantic story attached to this apartment).

I love the wonderful but sad, like Hashima Island, where 5,000 people used to live on one square mile. But when the coal ran out the island was deserted (more photos here). And this is a link to a video made by a man who goes back to the island to look around.


The internet brings me closer to people all around the world. It’s not a perfect world. For instance, there’s this series of photos of people with degrees who spent years studying and find themselves sweeping streets or serving tables.

I love twitter because I follow artists, writers and political activists who are always putting up interesting links. I’m still hungry for information about the world and its people.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s a writer thing. Writers find people and the world endlessly fascinating because we are always observing, trying to make sense of life. This is why I love the WWW because it has set me free. The more I learn, the more I want to know.

αωαωαωαωαωαωαω

GIVEAWAY

Rowena has a copy of either her gritty, noir-paranormal crime thriller The Price of Fame, or the first book of either of her fantasy trilogies, King Rolen’s Kin or The Outcast Chronicles to give away.

This competition is open to anyone anywhere in the world. 

Just answer Rowena's question in the comments below: "What do you love about the web? Surprise me!"