Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Amazon Tablet & rumors: DO WANT!

I've been somewhat following the rumors that have been floating about the potential Amazon tablet. Jeff Bezos has been rather coy about any potential tablets, never really giving out a definite answer as to when or how their own tablet will be released.

It's pretty much a given as to whether or not it will happen. After all, tablets are the "it" thing right now & it'd be incredibly foolhardy for amazon to pass up an opportunity to offer their own version. They're well known for successfully introducing their own ereader into the general public during a time where ereaders were pretty much a non-mainstream item. Even with the strong competition from Barnes & Nobles, Amazon has still managed to keep the kindle relevant, so I'm not surprised that they'd try to repeat this success with a tablet.

But what type of tablet? The rumors have ranged from the following:

*It'll run on android. (Not really a surprise. Android is really popular.)
*It'll have streaming movies. (Again, not a surprise. I expect that the AT will try to do everything the iPad can do.)
*Amazon is expecting to ship between half a million to a million units a month. (This is a little extravagant but I can see high amounts being shipped, especially if pre-existing kindle users get offered a special deal.)
*There are going to be 2 tablets offered. (Sort of doubting this, but it might be a good idea if amazon were to offer a cheaper, simpler tablet for people on a budget. It'd definitely take some wind out of iPad's sails since one of the biggest complains about the iPad is that it's too expensive.)

Supposedly we can expect the AT to appear sometime towards the end of the summer or mid-fall. I have to admit, I'm definitely intrigued. I've been wanting an iPad for a while but the price really deters me from purchasing one. If I could get something that's just as good for half or a third of the price, I'd probably go for it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: The Paradise Prophecy


Title: The Paradise Prophecy
Author: Robert Browne
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: 07/21/2011
ISBN: 9780525952237







The Da Vinci Code is going to both help & hinder Browne when it comes to this book. As both books deal with religious mysteries, the two of them are going to inevitably be compared to one another. The authors having nearly identical last names will only help further this along. It'll help since people will see this book, remember the good times they had reading TDVC, & pick The Paradise Prophecy up. It'll hinder because people won't find a TDVC-esque read behind these covers. Which I view as a very good thing. (Hey, there are enough clones out there.)

In the bestselling tradition of Dan Brown, Douglas Preston, and Lincoln Child comes a spectacular thriller inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost, in which the final chapter of the War in Heaven is about to play out on Earth, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance.

THE MYTH:
When God cast the archangel Satan into Hell, ending the War in Heaven, peace prevailed on Earth. Until the fallen angels took revenge in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, mankind has been in a struggle between good and evil, paradise and apocalypse: the fall of Rome, the Crusades, world wars, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East crisis. The War in Heaven never really ended-it just changed venues. For millennia, God's angels have been fighting Satan's demons on Earth to try to prevent Satan's greatest ambition-the apocalypse.

THE REALITY:
Satan has never been closer to his goal than right now.

Agent Bernadette Callahan is a talented investigator at a shadowy government organization known only as Section, on the trail of a serial killer with nearly supernatural abilities. Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie is a religious historian who knows far too much about the other side-and that hard-earned knowledge is exactly what Callahan needs. This unlikely duo pairs up for a race across the globe, decoding clues left in ancient texts from the Bible to Paradise Lost and beyond. In the process they stumble upon a vast conspiracy-one beyond the scope of mankind's darkest imagination.


This book was fantastic. I'm always looking for something, anything that will give me that heady rush that getting wrapped up in a good book always gives me. I absolutely loved that Browne didn't go the traditional route with this sort of book, which is to give us either a Dan Brown or a James Rollins clone. I also love that he gave us heroes that are so flawed, so initially corruptible. Batty & Callahan play well off of each other, him being the Mulder to Callahan's Scully. I also appreciated how the idea of angels & evil played into the book without going too over my head. This was an easily addictive read & I'm glad to have read it.

I can't help but feel that there will be a few people who will be inevitably disappointed that this book goes more to the supernatural than the whole "historical/mythological treasure hunt" angle that is predominant in the genre. I can understand that to a point, but if they allow that to completely taint their reading they'll be missing out on a really fun read.

The book wraps itself up nicely, but hopefully Browne will write a sequel or two. This is far too good to just be one book & I'm really digging his writing style. It's very addicting.

4/5

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Check it Out: Contest winner!

Hi everyone!

Sorry for posting the results of the contest so late! I ended up pulling a double shift & spent most of the weekend asleep! Sorry about that!!!

In any case, I picked a winner using random.org (awesome site to play around with, if you're curious) & here's the winner:


Auntie Deb!

I'll be sending you an email with the winning code from smashwords!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: Sacred Evil by Heather Graham


Title: Sacred Evil (Krewe of Hunters #3)
Author: Heather Graham
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: 07/26/2011
ISBN: 0778312429







If you were like me & was disappointed in the previous book in the series, take an easy breath: this book is better. It's not as fun as the first book was, but it's still much more intriguing than Heart of Evil.

A terror born of Jack the Ripper

The details of the crime scene are no coincidence. The body—a promising starlet—has been battered, bloodied and then discarded between two of Manhattan's oldest graveyards.

One look and Detective Jude Crosby recognizes the tableau:

A re–creation of Jack the Ripper's gruesome work. But he also sees something beyond the actions of a mere copycat. Something more dangerous…and unexplainable.

As the city seethes with suspicion, Jude calls on Whitney Tremont, a member of the country's preeminent paranormal investigating team, to put the speculation to rest. Yet when Whitney and Jude delve deeper, what they discover is more shocking than either could have predicted, and twice as sinister…

It's really hard to write a book with Ripper themes to it & not have the book be incredibly interesting. What really intrigued me about the book is how much Graham took from past events. I was surprised to know that there were a series of murders in New York that closely mirrored Jack the Ripper's style & that even today, the murderer was never caught. That played in well with the modern day killings in this book, making the suspense that much more thrilling & fun to read.

The romance in the book is mostly cut & dry, sadly. The chemistry between our two main characters doesn't really come through as well as I'd wanted it to, although I will admit that their later love scenes are pretty sizzling. The mystery does make up for this for most of the book, so I was well willing to overlook this. The only downfall of the mystery is that the conclusion is a little abrupt. The killer's identity was about what I was expecting but it came about so quickly that I couldn't help but feel like I'd missed out on something. I couldn't help but feel that a quick 5 pages or so would have helped ease the transition from chase to resolution a bit better.

This was still very fun to read & it'll make for an excellent beach read when it's released. Despite a few mild disappointments in the last few books, this is a series that I'd still recommend & am still waiting to see how it all pans out in the end.

3 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pottermore: Cool or disappointing?


I'll admit that I was just as eager as most to find out what the mysterious Pottermore website was about. Was it new information? New books? Maybe a series of short stories set in the world? The possibilities were endless. The wait & anticipation only made the speculation in the Harry Potter communities grow even more.

And then we found out what it was.



Don't get me wrong. The idea of official ebooks of the series is nice (although bootleg ebook versions abound on the internet) & having interactive content is cool as well. All that additional info on the series that JK claimed she had is cool as well.

It's just that all the site will basically contain are the ebooks & the equivalent of a Harry Potter encyclopedia. It's a little disappointing, to be honest. I will admit that I'm going to check out the website when it opens but probably not in the day or even the month (October, if you're curious) that it opens unless I hear it's really cool.

I don't have anything against the idea of it. It's just that I don't understand all the fanfare. It's like someone constantly telling you "Oh man, this is going to be THE best dinner ever- you wait & see" for a whole week, then you get home on the day in question & it's just a microwaved Hot Pocket. It's still delicious but you were expecting something a little bit bigger & fancier.

Check it Out: Linda Hawley

Today's the last day of the series, so I'm giving you double the author goodness with Linda Hawley!



I notice that your book deals with a not-too-far-in-the-future where everyone is tracked. What made you come up with this frightening (yet entirely plausible) idea?

I want to try to make the world a better place. I am an observer of life, and those observations have led me to realize that many are unhappy with the government’s involvment in people’s lives. The inspiration for The Prophecies trilogy started with that. Tracking through RFID came about after I started to research the technology; it absolutely blew my mind. It’s being used right now in most advanced countries in the world, to track citizens. Taking the next step, into the future use of it in 2015, wasn’t that big of a leap.


Have you based any of the elements in your book on true life experiences or people? Obviously there's some creative liberty taken, but is any of it based on real situations? (That you can tell us, anyway.)

The last chapter of Dreams Unleashed came from an experience that I had. When I wrote it down (in story form), the main character, Ann Torgeson, was born.


What do you do when you hit a creative roadblock?

For me, writing is the easy part. There was one junction in writing Dreams Unleashed, where I ran out of ideas. I was talking in bed with my husband (at 3:00 AM, after writing), and told him that I had no idea what would happen to this character next. I said that my mind was a blank—nothing was happening. The next day, from work, he sent me an email with some ideas he had. One really funny idea stuck, and you'll find it in chapter 22 of Dreams Unleashed; it has to do with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).



For some it's the title, for others it's getting that perfect ending: What's the hardest thing about writing for you?

That would be editing. I want to make it clear that I have a content editor that is the Special Forces equivalent. But I detest the editing process; it’s actually painful for me. I lost at least 20,000 words in the editing process of Dreams Unleashed. In those 20k words, was a hat that one of my characters was wearing that I was very fond of. : ( However, with all that said, with very good content editing, the story is fit for comsumption by readers.


You've had an incredible past, working for the government as well as in our military (which I totally appreciate). Do you have any cool stories you can tell us? Did working at these places help or hinder your writing?

I have to be very careful here; I’m sure they’re listening. : /

I really wanted to include the military in this story, as part of Ann’s past, because I wanted to show another side of how the military contributes to government intelligence. I am certain that my understanding of these things helped me write the humor present in Dreams Unleashed. The scene with Ann at the shooting range was one that happened to me, so writing about it was fun.
That’s about all I can say. : /


Why should readers read your book?

This first book in The Prophecies trilogy is about getting yourself strapped in for a wild ride of adventure where anything is possible using the human mind. I have created multidimensional characters that stick with the reader, and that readers can invest in. In this trilogy, connections are everywhere. It’s the kind of novel that you can go back and read it a second time, and glean more from it. It keeps giving.


Can you tell us little bit more about yourself, family, or hobbies (other than writing or reading)?

I've kayaked from one island to another in the Carribean. I've backpacked the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia with the Sierra Club. I've attended a Christmas party at the White House and have been on Air Force One. I've been to Europe many times (I am in love with Paris, which will be a part of book two of The Prophecies). I’ve jumped out of a plane and had my parachute lines tangle, making me think through the emergency rather quickly. Of course, I've sailed the San Juan Islands, which are featured in Dreams Unleashed.


Any funny quirks or pet peeves?

I chew ice when I’m writing a tense passage in my novels. My dentist doesn’t like it.


Anything you want to say to readers and fans?

Recently I received permission from a number of Book Reviewers to use their quotes in interviews. Their objective perspectives are very insightful. Here is what they’ve said about reading and reviewing Dreams Unleashed (book one in The Prophecies trilogy):

“Ann is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read…. The world is dystopian: the government is the evil Big Brother keeping people safe even against their will. Yet, the characters aren’t depressed or desperate. They try to live their normal lives which includes laughter, too.”
Mervi's Book Reviews

“The book really pushed me out of my comfort zone as I’ve never read any other book similar to this…. From the very beginning, the book kept me intrigued by its mystifying plot and excellent narration. I must laud the author for her ability to write her story in the finest detail, which makes the story sound somewhat believable. Everything was described superbly…. Overall, this novel is a real and pure page-turner.”
Vanessa Eric, The Bornean Bookworm

“The book has some references to current political figures and situations that make it very easy to get sucked into the story. The book is extremely well written and had my attention from the beginning to the end.”
Scott, Indie Book Blog
Link
“It's like a present that you are slowly unwrapping layer by layer.”
Smitten With Reading
“If you put Dana Scully and Fox Mulder into a blender and hit puree, they’d make a mean Ann Torgeson. Dreams Unleashed was a great start to what I’m sure will be a fantastic book series. It poked fun at the TSA, and gave a frightful vision into a not-too-distant world where privacy truly is a thing of the past.”
She Never Slept

Thank you for reading my stories!
Linda

Book/Author Information



The eBook version of Dreams Unleashed is available for purchase now at $2.99 (for all eBook readers) at Smashwords, Amazon, as well as at Barnes & Noble.

You can read a free sample of Dreams Unleashed at Amazon.

The print copy of Dreams Unleashed is due to be published the week of June 20th.

Visit Linda on her website as well as her blog at: http://lindahawley.com/ & http://lindahawley.com/b2e/blog5.php!Link

Check it Out: Lisa Lim

Hi everyone! This month's series of authors to watch for is winding down, but I've still got a few authors to reveal to you!

Lisa Lim has written a book that definitely strikes a chord with me. It's about a girl who works in a call center & as someone who used to work in an outsourced "call before you dig" call center (Indiana Underground, how can I help you?), I can commiserate with the craziness that abounds in this profession. (Spraypainted dogs, people yelling at me to turn their utilities back on... it was crazy.) This is a profession that's actually ingenious to cast a heroine in- there's a lot of potential for humor, drama, & for one call to take you in some of the most wild directions!





What inspired you to write Confessions of a Call Center Gal?

I’m a chick lit junkie and I've read countless of chick lit novels. The women usually have fancy jobs, and they fancy men who hold fancy jobs. And I wanted to read about a woman I could relate to. A protagonist who is regular chick with a very ordinary job, who falls for a guy with an ordinary job. Although, the guy is anything but ordinary (I like to think).

And I know this sounds cliched, but my English teacher in college prefaced every writing assignment with this advice – “Write what you know.” And I know too much about call centers. One only need to hear the word "call center" and everyone’s blood pressure skyrockets through the roofs. Callers go ballistic and become verbally abusive over the phone, and often feel entitled to unload their personal demons on us. I've seen many of my co-workers on the verge of tears... and I wanted to tell our story.



What do you do in your spare time when you're not writing?

I have three pooches that I adore to bits. They're shelter dogs and my motto is ~ Don't shop! Adopt!

I enjoy walking my furry companions but I find it mildly annoying when people ask, “Oh are you walking the dogs or are the dogs walking you?” Me: *Dry laugh*

Oh, I also love scarfing down bean burritos. Mexican food. *Nom* *Nom*

By the way, I want to marry a bean burrito.

And he will have Mexican Monterey cheese hair.



What’s your typical celebration ritual when you sell a new book or get exciting news about an existing one? Anything strange or quirky we should know about?

Um, did I mention I love bean burritos? I blast the Mariachi music and gobble up bean burritos.



If you could choose one dessert or snack food that you could eat as much as you want of (and never gain an ounce!) what would it be?

Bwarhahahaha. I think you already know the answer to that one.



What was your favorite book growing up and why?

Anne of Green Gables, Sweet Valley High, oh and of course Peter Pan. That book is chock full of memorable sayings that I cherish. *COUGH* If I may? Here goes ~

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”

“To love would be an awfully big adventure.”

“To live will be a great adventure.”

“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!”

“Wendy,’ Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, ‘Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”

~ by the great J.M Barrie



If your book were to be turned into a movie, would your dream cast be?

Ohhh this is fab fun. The lead protagonist Maddy would be played by Zooey Deschannel (500 Days of Summer) and Zac Efron or Zac Levi would be cast as Mika—the Belgian stud.

Rex Lee (flamboyantly gay Asian on Entourage) or Jo Koy as Truong Nguyen.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

No other emotion quite compares to laughter, and I hope my readers get plenty of laughs.



A fun chick lit that will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes. Bridget Jones meets The Office. Madison Lee is a fresh college grad, ready to take on the world of print media. But she has zero luck landing a job. Unemployment is at ten percent and on the rise. Desperate and left with no other options, she accepts a position as a service rep at a call center in Pocatello, Idaho. At the Lightning Speed call center in Spudsville, Maddy plunges into the wild and dysfunctional world of customer service where Sales is prided over Service and an eight hour shift is equivalent to eight hours of callers bashing her over the phone. Oh sure, the calls are bad. But Maddy manages to find humor on the phone and off the phone. And with all the salacious drama behind the calls, there is never a dull moment at the Lightning Speed call center.

Lately . . . Maddy has been pining for her smolderingly gorgeous co-worker Mika Harket. Now things are heating up on the phone--and elsewhere. Don't hang up on this novel. Working at a call center has never been this garish . . . or this delightful.


Confessions of a Call Center Gal: a novel is available on Amazon for Kindle and on Barnes and Noble for Nook for $2.99. The paperback edition is available on Amazon for $12.95.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

L.A. Banks diagnosed with cancer.. :( Help via auction!


Hi guys... I hate to interrupt the fun of introducing new authors, but I've got some sad news to impart.

Bestselling author L.A. Banks of Vampire Huntress fame has just been diagnosed with late stage adrenal cancer. She's going to fight this as hard as she can for as long as she can, but unfortunately good cancer care is expensive.

That's where fans like you & I come in. I've discovered that her friends & family have set up a page where we can donate towards her medical care. (Click here for the page.)





If you're in the Philly, PA area then you can take a donation to any Police and Fire Federal Credit Union branch. For the rest of us we can donate via paypal.

If you can, please donate so we can keep her with us for a long time to come!


UPDATE:

I've also found the auction site where you can bid on items & the proceeds will go towards Banks' treatment. There's all sorts of wonderful things up for bids from all sorts of authors & people, from Heather Graham offering a two night stay & registration for a conference she's holding, to various businesses offering marketing packages.

All of the opening bids on these items are at a fraction of their cost, so please take a look!

Check it Out: Chloe Bierge

Hi everyone! I've got another author to introduce to you today! Her name is Chloe Bierge & she's agreed to write a little bit about her book The Other Side of the Window for us!






The Other Side of the Window by Chloe Bierge is a dramtic, illuminating, and sometimes humorous journey of a young women's battle with mental illness.

Savannah Bloom believes in the power of good journalism and wants to report on important stories, which she believes can be found anywhere, even in the small town of Saddlebrook, Maryland. After her childhood sweetheart, Chase, returns from Africa, she gets sick with whatever it is that he brought back and soon finds herself battling It, this thing that takes over the helm in her brain in a mutiny that causes her to have a continuous tug of war between belief and disbelief as she battles her own war on terror. All the while she is being stalked by a young man who has hacked into her computer and is plagued with intrusive mental holograms of Tom, a pharmaceutical sales rep, after writing an unflattering story about the drug he sells. She worries he is her stalker. In her pursuit of the truth about what is wrong with her, what caused it, and how it can best be treated, she finds herself the central figure of a national story she uncovers. But her creditability -- her sanity-- comes into question, making it near impossible for her to get her story to be taken with the seriousness it deserves, which leaves her with a tall order to fill: She must prove to the world that she can have a brain disorder that at times makes her feel insane but still really be sane.

Chloe Bierge is an award-winning national medical journalist writing under a pen name so that she may let her creativity flow. The Other Side of the Window is based on years of research and blends fiction with fact. Chloe hopes readers will enjoy the story and learn a little along the way.

Check it Out: Darren Pillsbury

Hi everyone! It's time again for me to introduce you to a new author! Today I have Darren Pillsbury, author of Peter and the Vampires! He was kind enough to answer some questions for me, so here goes:



Have you always loved horror? What are some of your favorite horror books & movies?



Yeah, I’ve pretty much always loved horror novels. Mostly because of Stephen King, and partly because he was ‘forbidden.’ I grew up in a pretty conservative, religious household, and while my father read King’s books (because my dad did whatever he wanted to), my mom forbade me to even look at them. So I remember sneaking into the grocery store book aisles when I was nine and ten and reading ‘the good parts’ of books like SKELETON CREW and PET SEMATARY.

I never saw horror movies growing up because I couldn’t see anything Rated R. When I finally went off to college, I never really gravitated towards horror movies that strongly, especially not slasher films or overtly gross ones. I vastly prefer being creeped out and frightened rather than disgusted. That’s what I shoot for in PETER AND THE VAMPIRES and its sequels (PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES and PETER AND THE FRANKENSTEIN).

As far as books, PET SEMATARY is my favorite horror novel of all time. And I’d say SEVEN is my favorite horror movie, although you could just as easily call it a thriller. I also like THE RING quite a bit.



Is anything in your book true to life? There's obviously some creative license involved, but is anything in the book based on real people or experiences? If not, what's your favorite ghost story?

Oh yeah, there’s a ton of stuff I take from my own life. Mostly small plot details or characters. The most obvious one is that Peter has a two-year-old sister named Beth who is a terror. She’s just hellacious. And she’s taken directly from my own real-life sister, down to details like they both wore a Strawberry Shortcake bathing suit over their regular clothes in the wintertime. (My sister now is very nice and sweet, and since she doesn’t remember how bad she was as a toddler, she always thinks we’re lying when we tell stories about her at family gatherings.)

As far as spooky stuff, no, I've never encountered anything supernaturally creepy in real life. My favorite ghost story is about a woman who goes into a deserted church late at night. She sits down near the front and notices a silver platter on the altar - and in it she sees the reflections of a bunch of skeletons in the pews behind her. They claw at her as she runs out the front door, and she barely escapes with her life. Nobody in the village believes her until they find her shredded scarf lying in front of the empty church. I like that story so much I actually stole it and put it in the book! Anybody who reads PETER AND THE VAMPIRES will recognize that scene immediately, even in its modified form.


What age group would you say your book is for?


Everybody. No, I’m serious! Like the Harry Potter series, PETER AND THE VAMPIRES has young protagonists, but the stories are definitely entertaining for older audiences. Ten-year-old kids will enjoy PETER, but I blogged the series for three years, and most of my fans are in high school, college, and their 20’s and 30’s.


Wait – you blogged these books for three years?


Yup! I wanted to try to build up an audience first by blogging the stories for awhile. ‘Awhile’ turned into three years and four novels (PETER AND THE MUMMY will probably be out in Fall 2011). I took down the blog posts, but I made some Youtube videos that are still around. Just google ‘Peter And The Dead Men video.’



Do you have any specific inspirations & muses or do you pick up ideas randomly?

Mmmm…I’d say that I get core ideas from simple images, and I build off of those through a lot of daydreaming. Usually I see something interesting and I think, “Hey, what if…”


For instance, in "Vampires," the image in my head was of a little girl in a rainstorm, calling up to a window in a faint, creepy voice. And then, when the lightning crashes, she’s gone. Who was she? Why was she there? That's fairly typical of how I'll start a new story.


I notice that you're active with charities. Any specific one that you really love that you want to mention here on the blog?


Yes, thank you for mentioning it! SaveThe Children is a great charity that helps impoverished kids throughout the world. If you want to donate, they’re a wonderful organization.


Writer's block: the author's worst bogeyman. What do you do to slay this horrendous beast? Any suggestions for other authors?

The hardest part of writing every day is the first ten minutes. Every day it’s a struggle to get started. Then once you warm up and you’re in the zone, it’s fun. So just start, and it gets a whole lot easier after that. When I begin writing for the day, I go back and revise the last page from the previous session, and that usually gets me into the frame of mind for putting down new material.


The other thing is I don’t write nearly as much as I daydream. For most of the stories I write, I’ve already daydreamed a movie in my head with all the major plot points. I usually have A, B, E, J, M, P, Q, and Z. I just have to fill in all the other letters so the story’s complete. (That’s a big ‘just,’ by the way.) So as long as I make it through that first ten minutes, knowing what big scene is coming up next helps me stay on track and away from writer’s block.



Do you have any news I can dish out for you?


Let’s see…go buy PETER AND THE VAMPIRES (99 cents!), PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES ($2.99), and PETER AND THE FRANKENSTEIN ($2.99)! Available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords!


I eventually plan to put out paper versions, but it might take a year, and they’ll be a whole lot more expensive.


PETER AND THE MUMMY (Volume 4 of the series) will hopefully be out in Fall 2011.


I also have another book, IMAGINARY FRIENDS (about a single dad who can see his two little boys’ imaginary friends), that is currently available in paperback on Amazon. It should be out as an ebook at the same time as MUMMY.




What made you want to write? Was there a specific moment in your life that made you realize this is what you wanted to do or did you always know?


I think I always knew. It crystallized a bit more when I started reading Stephen King – “I wanna do that when I grow up!” – but I always made up stories in my head, from the earliest I can remember. There weren’t many kids in my neighborhood growing up, so I came up with all sorts of imaginary stories and worlds to pass the time. More than anything, I think it was that need to entertain myself that eventually led me to writing. Now hopefully I can entertain other people, too!

--------------



Curious to read Darren's books? You can find them on Amazon, Smashwords, & Barnes & Nobles!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Check It Out: Simon Dunn

Hey everyone! Here's your latest dose of author goodness! Today I have author & comedian Simon Dunn! He's here to answer a few questions & promote his book Rotten Apple: Seven Sins, One Deadly City!



Where do you come up with your ideas? Do you have a specific muse or do you draw your inspiration from things you see in your daily life?

I never know how to answer that question without sounding sarcastic. One writer once said that he heard a voice in his head, but it spoke in a foreign language he couldn't understand, so instead he sat down and wrote for hours until everything was done.


I see you've done some comedy work. Is it very different, writing comedy for the screen rather than writing for a book?

They are different disciplines for sure, but they both rely on strong dramatic structure. Prose gives you more breathing space to explore ideas though, while on screen you have to be quick, concise and have many more ideas in a shorter space of time. I think Rotten Apple is paced more like a screenplay than a book - it probably needs to be when it comes to comedy.


Comedy is serious business. Have you ever worked on a scene or joke for so long that it just isn't funny to you anymore?

Yes. It needs to stop being funny before you can assess it critically. It's usually the things that make you laugh when you write them which are the things that soon get dropped and re-worked.


Are any of the events in your books based upon real people or situations? If so, how much of it is real & how much is from your own imagination?

There's a moment when Vic Malone jumps out of a tenth storey window naked and uses the body of a cop to dampen his fall. That happened to me.


Do you have any news that I can dish for you?

I'm currently working on a few ideas for British TV and a new Kindle book is coming soon.


What do you do when writer's block hits you? Any advice for other authors out there?

There's no such thing as writers' block, it's pretentious nonsense. No other field of work hides behind such twaddle. You don't see coal miners taking the day off because they aren't feeling creative. If your writing is running out of steam, it's due to lack of planning and thought. Always have several projects on the go, and switch to another and let your mind ponder things for a while.


What drives you to write & do comedy work? What made you look at these fields & decide "this is the life for me"? Was there a big moment or did you just always know this is what you were meant for?

Bills.


Coke or Pepsi?

Bills.


--------------------------------------------------------------


A noir-crime-suspense-thriller parody.

Seven interwoven comic stories from the underbelly of a sinful city. The hard-boiled detective, the down-to-earth stripper, the embittered hack, the psycho killer, the sultry brief, the gentleman thief - they all live in the Rotten Apple.


Curious about Simon's book? You can pick it up via Amazon.com
for the kindle!

Kodansha's website is up!



I'm intruding on the CIO series to let my fellow manga fans know that the Kodansha website it up. I'm horribly late at remarking on this, but it's exciting to see what the website has to offer. It's also interesting to see that they aren't stopping at manga- there's another Kodansha website that has book offerings in many various fields!

Previously the Kodansha site only had a list of various manga they were going to be releasing, so this is really nice to look at. Still no sign of what the Sailor Moon covers will look like, but I've heard that they'll probably resemble the newer released volumes in Japan that collect multiple volumes in one binding. (The shinsōban editions.)


What's interesting is that the site has covers up for the manga that had previously been released in the US. It makes me think that perhaps Kodansha will continue to release the series in similar themed covers, which is pretty cool for those of us who love to have all of their manga matching one another. I'm pretty excited to see what their manga will look like- I've got a few of their manga on order through amazon, so I'll definitely let you guys know when it comes in!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Deviant by Adrian McKinty


Title: Deviant
Author: Adrian McKinty
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: 10/01/2011
ISBN: 9780810984202







I really debated about whether or not to review this book because I didn't really know what to say about it. It isn't a terrible read but I just didn't get into this as much as I would have liked to. The following parts of the review will be semi-spoilerish (I'll leave the big stuff out) to some people, so if you're wondering whether or not to read the book then here's my opinion: It's worth checking out as a library book & reading. I also recommend that you read the book synopsis below because well, the official book description isn't all that accurate. Those details are in the book, but not to the degree that the official synopsis makes it appear.

Danny's not happy. First his mother got married to a guy that Danny just can't stand and now he has to leave his home because his mother got a new job in Colorado. To make matters worse, Danny's new school is "special" in that everything is controlled. The kids don't just wear uniforms- they're also not allowed to speak unless it's from a script. Supposedly the incredibly controlling environment is going to help kids excel, but it doesn't stop schoolyard bullies from finding ways to pick on Danny & his new friends. If these stressors aren't enough, there's the neighborhood's tendency for dead cats. The adults swear that it's due to coyotes, but the kids know better. They know that there's someone dangerous out there & that it's only a matter of time before he makes the leap from animals to humans!

First the good. I really appreciated that the author took such great pains to research the stages that a potential serial killer would go through as well as what might go through their minds. The rather gruesome beginning to the book sets a dark tone for much of the book's opening. When it comes to details about serial killing, the author is top notch.

However, when it comes to details about everything else the author seems to come up a little short. Scenes that revolve around non-serial killer emotions tend to fall a little flat & I really couldn't help but feel that a few lines here or there would have helped out immensely. One such scene occurs later in the book with Danny & there just wasn't enough buildup to really justify such a scene, especially since it's such a complete opposite of things he was feeling & thinking earlier. It also doesn't help that the book's official description doesn't really fit the actions of the book's bad guy. If you're expecting this to be about a serial killer then you'll be semi-disappointed. The book is mostly about Danny adapting to his new environment, his stepdad, & his new friends.

I'm willing to give the book the benefit of the doubt though & I'll still recommend it, albeit as a library read. I can see this having a pretty large appeal to the male reading audience, especially since it's so hard for young men to find a book that isn't aimed towards teen girls or written for a far younger mindset. It's just that this didn't draw me in like I really wanted & needed it to. It'll never capture the public mindset like Pretty Little Liars did, but I have a feeling that it'll still find a good following.

2.5/5

(Arc provided by Netgalley)

Check it Out: Victoria Martinez

Ok, so I know I read almost entirely fiction (urban fantasy at that), but I couldn't resist having Victoria Martinez write a guest blog for me for this month's series! Her book takes an in depth look to the standards of royal beauty & hopefully her blog will have you eagerly lining up to order her book! I have to say, this blog is absolutely fascinating! I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have!







Beauty’s Divine Right of Sovereignty

By Victoria Martínez

From Helen of Troy, wife of the king of Sparta and the woman whose face “launched a thousand ships,” to Catherine Middleton, now HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, whose beauty routine has launched a thousand blogs and YouTube videos, the correlation between preternatural good looks and royal women is deeply rooted in our collective psyche. Even if we remove childhood fairy tales and modern beauty pageant “queens” from the equation, we still expect and want real princesses and queens to be beautiful, and great pains are taken to help maintain this symbiosis.

The truth is somewhat more brutal as history is filled with royal women who were anything but beauty queens or who resorted to extreme measures to keep up the façade of beauty and elegance under intense public scrutiny. Royal beauty – or lack thereof – is a topic I explore in two chapters of my book, An Unusual Journey Through Royal History.

Personally, all my expectations of royal beauty were shattered at the tender age of six when I first saw a photograph of Queen Victoria. Clad in black, built like a battleship, stern and unsmiling, even her masses of impressive jewels failed to inspire awe in me. She was certainly not what I had been hoping for in my royal namesake. But her appearance inspired me in other ways as an adult; in particular, encouraging me to explore the lives of royal women on whom the spotlight didn’t shine. One of these was Queen Victoria’s cousin, Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, whose story I tell in the chapter, “The Courting of Fat Mary.” At 200-plus pounds, the royal family found it quite difficult to find her a suitable husband despite the fact that she was a “remarkably light dancer.”

Even the most celebrated royal women in history, whose legendary beauty has been lauded for time-immemorial by historians, scholars and, of course, Hollywood, are no longer immune to harsh reality, as I describe in the chapter, “A Pageant of Queens.”

Cleopatra, immortalized on the Silver Screen by Elizabeth Taylor and even named as one of the 100 most beautiful women of all time as recently as 2004, may have won the hearts of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, but she didn’t do it with her stellar looks according to modern archeological finds. An article in the January 2002 issue of Harper’s Bazaar succinctly described Cleopatra as she was portrayed in contemporary images as “an ordinary-looking woman, short, with bad teeth and a bony nose.”

Portraits of French Empress Josephine Bonaparte always emphasize a woman with delicate features and apparent gentility, but they also never show her smiling, and for very good reason. Having been raised on a sugar plantation in Martinique, Josephine had early on been exposed to too much sugar and not enough dental hygiene. In short, her teeth were blackened from decay and her gums were swollen from irritation. Even the most flattering contemporary descriptions of Josephine credit her more for her “sweet personality” than for anything other than being merely “pretty.”

Not even Queen Nefertiti, the ancient Egyptian consort whose name roughly translates to “the beautiful one is come,” was immune to the ravages of age, which is why she opted for an early form of facelift.

A wonderful anecdote of the expectations of royal feminine beauty is given in My Blue Notebooks, the diary of the 19th century French courtesan Liane de Pougy. Known for her exquisite beauty and terminal elegance, Liane tells how, in 1892 or 1893, French dramatist Henri Meilhac asked her to attend a performance at the Opéra-Comique in Paris and emphatically insisted that she wear her “tiara, masses of jewels, a low-cut dress… [and] white cloak with the gold embroidery and the ermine lining.” He also told her she “must have an entourage” and that she “must arrive before the curtain goes up.” For her troubles, he gave Liane 2000 francs and promised her the left stage box, but failed to provide an explanation for her dramatic appearance and entrance.

Liane did as she was asked and made a grand entrance to her box at the opera promptly 15 minutes before the curtain rose, dressed to the nines and accompanied by two equally elegant and well-dressed ladies. Much to her surprise, every person in the packed opera house rose to their feet and turned to look at her. The orchestra suddenly “broke into patriotic music,” causing Liane and her entourage to rise to their feet and prompting the audience to break into spontaneous applause. The celebrated courtesan went gracefully along with the strange situation, assuming that the display was simply a “homage to my youth and beauty.”

Within moments, Meilhac entered Liane’s box and, hysterical with laughter, explained what had just happened… “We’re expecting the Queen of Sweden – in the box opposite – they thought you were her, it’s too killing for words.” Liane looked across to the other box and saw: “a lanky, sad-looking woman, rather badly dressed, surrounded by quite an entourage. Her entrance had been ruined, no one noticed it. It was me… to whom the crowd had paid homage – and the orchestra too, because it was the Swedish national anthem that they had played.”

Meilhac summed up the situation best when he said later, “Homage to beauty! Vox populi, vox dei [trans: The voice of the people is the voice of God]! How beautiful is our Liane! That is how people expect a queen to look, and she has proved it.”

Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray that beauty “has its divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it.” Perhaps, but sovereignty does not always make beauties of those princesses and queens who have it, no matter how much we’re inclined to believe otherwise.



An Unusual Journey Through Royal History by Victoria Martínez is available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and WhoDaresWinsPublishing.com.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Check it Out: K.A. Tucker

Hi everyone! I've got yet another great author to introduce (or re-introduce) to you! Today we have K.A. Tucker, author of Anathema!



A Writer’s Approach to Writing.

Every writer has their ‘right way’ to write a book. A way that makes sense to them, that’s comfortable, that (hopefully) saves them from months of agonizing revision and rewrites. The trick is discovering what that perfect method is.
So how did I find mine?

September 30th, 2009. That was the day I began writing what would become Anathema. My second daughter was 3 months old and had (finally) drifted off to sleep, and I was stretched out in the family room with an archaic second-hand Dell laptop and an idea. I began adding to that idea each day, during my girls’ naps and in the evenings, after they had gone to sleep. I had no method. I just wrote. It made sense for me at the time. It’s all I knew.

Until revision time came…

I started revising all wrong. I worked on line-editing - trying to smooth out sentences and correct typos, all while this little voice in the back of my mind kept nattering, “yes, you know the difference between their, there, and they’re… but is the actual story any good?”
I finally accepted that I had no sweet clue how to write a novel, even with 110 000 of my own words staring back at me. That’s when I decided I needed to get help. For some, that means going directly to an editor. For others, it’s a writers’ critique group. For me, it was an online course.
In August of 2010 I began a course by Holly Lisle, called “How to Revise your Novel.” I think the title is self-explanatory. It was online, it was at my own pace, and it was delivered in a very easy, non-English class format (you want to see my eyes glaze over? Start throwing terms like ‘predicative adjective’ and ‘reflective pronoun’ at me).
Every single night after my kids went to bed, I cracked the course lessons, as painful as some of them were. And believe me, some of them were downright stab-me-in-the-eye-with-a-fork painful. In the end, I had stripped out 50 000 words of meaningless, pointless crap from my manuscript and rebuilt with another 30 000 of ‘good stuff’ in. It was an eye-opening experience I don’t ever want to go through again.

Why do I mention this course here? It’s not meant to be a plug for Holly’s course (though I highly recommend it!). It’s because during this course, I also stumbled upon my perfect writing approach. The ‘right way’ for me to develop a story. It was derived from a combination of Holly’s teachings, common sense, and my own practicality.

How do I know I’ve found it? Because the night I sent Anathema to the editor, I began working on the second in the series using my newly discovered method. Within two weeks I had a solid outline and within two months the first draft. And the entire process was comfortable. It felt right. My new-found approach gives me the level of structure I need to effectively tie the plots and conflicts together from the beginning, all while not handcuffing my creativity. It’s my perfect balance. It may not work for others - in fact, I can guarantee it won’t for many - but it’s perfect for me.

I’m not going to sit here and outline my perfect writing approach. It’s mine. My precious.

Just kidding. :)

The purpose of this guest blog was simply to highlight that there is no one right way to approach writing a novel but there IS one right way for every individual writer. You all have a perfect approach waiting to be discovered and when you do, expect magic.

Have you found yours yet?

Thank you to Book Goggles for hosting me today :)


-----------------


Evangeline has spent her teenage years in obscurity. Her foster parents have the emotional aptitude of robots and her classmates barely acknowledge her existence. About to turn eighteen and feeling like a social pariah, she is desperate to connect with someone. Anyone.

When Evangeline meets Sofie after literally stumbling upon her café, she believes she’s found that connection. Willing to do anything to keep it, she accepts a job as Sofie’s assistant and drops everything to fly to Manhattan, where she is thrust into a luxurious world of Prada, diamonds, and limitless cash.

With such generosity and kindness, it’s easy for Evangeline to dismiss certain oddities . . . like Sofie’s erratic and sometimes violent behavior, and the monstrous guard dogs. She’s even willing to dismiss her vivid dreams of mob-style murders, beautiful homeless people living in caves, and white-eyed demons that haunt her each night as figments of her imagination—especially when one of those figments is the gorgeous Caden. When she wakes up with bite marks on her neck, the fairy tale quickly turns into a nightmare. She slowly unravels the mystery surrounding Sofie and friends, and the reality of the bites and the “dreams.” What she discovers is far more mysterious and terrible than anything she could have imagined.

In a world where everyone has motive to lie for personal gain, Evangeline must decide which deception is least likely to get her killed.


Just to let you know, you can buy K.A. Tucker's book on amazon, smashwords, & Barnes & Nobles!

Also, don't forget that there's a book giveaway!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Check it Out: Kimberly Spencer & Shimmerspell

Hi everyone! Back again for another dose of authors & books to check out! (Isn't the cover on this one gorgeous?)


Hi. My name is Kimberly Spencer and I devour young adult fiction. What kind, you may ask. Well, I’d have to say the paranormal kind—ones with boys that bite, fallen angels, bean sidhes, and even a killer unicorn or two. I wake up with those types of books on my mind and usually go to sleep the same way. Crazy, I know.

Paranormal and fantastical elements have always been exciting to me and that's why I chose to include them in my own writing. My novella, Shimmerspell, tackles faerie lore, specifically the tale of Morgen Le Fae. My goal was to create a modern faerie tale loosely based on Arthurian Legend that answered the question: How did the Faery world react to Morgen’s betrayal of King Arthur? With Shimmerspell, I’d like to think I accomplished that goal and more.

Shimmerspell is the first novella in the YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy series, Faerie Tale Girl. I plan to release the follow-up, Limerick, July 2011.

When sixteen-year-old Jensen Meadows finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient faerie war, she soon learns that faeries aren't made of sparkly goodness. They're vicious. And worse, they're after her.

With the help of Liam Casey, she delves into their world to find her missing sister and begins to suspect that her whole life has been nothing more than a faerie tale.

But maybe some truths should never be revealed...

Random facts about me:

-In a past life, I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. Because of that, I write my stories with a melody in mind and each line must fit the arrangement before I can move on to the next chapter.

-I absolutely hated school, but somehow managed to get my BA in Psychology and MSCE in Counseling Psychology.

-My favorite authors are Rachel Vincent, Gena Showalter, and Cassandra Clare.



(Find Kimberly's book on Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, & Barnesandnoble.com!)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Check it Out: Christina Daley & Seranfyll

Hi everyone! I'm bringing you a new set of authors to be on the watch for! First up is Christina Daley, who was gracious enough to do a guest blog for me!




I'm delighted to be a guest blogger today on Book Goggles, and I thank Chibi Neko for giving me the chance to talk about my debut work here.

Seranfyll is a fantasy written for readers ages ten and up. It's the story of a thirteen-year-old slave girl called Rain, who lives in the country of Yoan, where slaves aren't allowed to have proper names. After being sold to pay part of a gambling debt, she's bought and freed by an eccentric young nobleman named Domrey Seranfyll. Many rumors surround her unlikely emancipator, such as his house is haunted, his horse can fly, and that he's actually a devil.

When faced with making a choice for the first time in her life, Rain decides to stay with Lord Domrey, as does another freed slave called Coal. The book follows the adventures of these three as they learn about choices, consequences, and what being free really means.

Often when I write, I'm trying to figure something out. I have a question, and in the quest for the answer, sometimes I'll put that matter into a story. Then, I let the characters hash it out until a satisfactory answer arises--in theory at least. Among the many questions that I explored in Seranfyll, one of the main ones was, "What does real love look like?"

I think in our Desperate-Idol-saturated society, the concept of "love" has taken on many different forms. We may not like some family members, but we love them anyway, because we're related. We love our spouses, because hopefully they love us in return. We love things like money and sex and entertainment, because they make us feel good, if only temporarily. In short, love is selfish, obligated, and it often comes with strings attached.

So, what does the unselfish kind look like? The kind that creates bonds that not all the poetry or prose or scientific data in the world can explain? I tried exploring this in all three main characters: Rain in her patience and compassion, Coal in his honor and loyalty, and Domrey in his provision and protection.

All of them show their affections in their unique ways. At one point in the story, the otherwise rough-around-the-edges Coal says something significant to Rain: "You once said that you couldn't think of anythin' that you were better at than yer sister. Well, just bein' around you is good enough. You don't have to do anythin'."

In other words, Rain was valued for her self, no strings attached. I test this selfless love in several more situations, some more drastic than others. The result, I think, is not perfect relationships between Rain, Coal, and Domrey. But they are meaningful ones.

Did I find the answer I was looking for? I don't know. You'll have to read the book and find out :) Of course, I had to have some fun with it, hence the bits of goofball humor that pop up in the story here and there.

Seranfyll is available on Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, and BarnesandNoble.com. Also, I invite you to visit my blog (christinadaley.blogspot.com), as well as follow me on Twitter (@CDaleyAuthor), or find me on Facebook (Books by Christina Daley) to keep up to date with future projects and other "shtuffs."

Thanks for having me, and happy reading!

Check it Out! Book Giveaway: Shimmerspell by Kimberly Spencer

Hi everyone! Time for another series of "Check it Out" as well as another ebook giveaway!




This time I have a really awesome looking ebook to offer you, especially for those of you who love authors such as Melissa Marr. The contest will go on for 7 days, starting on 6/18/2011 (12:01 AM) & ending on 06/24/2011 (11:59 PM). The winner gets a smashwords coupon for the format of your choice!

Want to enter? Easy! Just comment here with whatever comes to your head, along with your email address. (But be sure to put it like this: name at domain dot com. This was the spammers don't get you.)

When sixteen-year-old Jensen Meadows finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient faerie war, she quickly learns that faeries aren't made of sparkly goodness. They're vicious. And worse, they're after her. With the help of Liam Casey, she delves into their world to find her missing sister and begins to suspect that her whole life has been nothing more than a faerie tale. But maybe some truths should never be revealed...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Congratulations Spookygirl & Jill Baguchinsky!!



Congratulations to Jill Baguchinsky, winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards young adult division! You did it!!!

I have to say, I'm incredibly excited that she won. Not only was the excerpt great but this is the first paranormal/urban fantasy novel to win in the competition in general, let alone in the YA division.

We'll all be watching for this novel with extreme excitement, as well as for any further works by you!

Violet Addison can chat with the dead, but what really frightens her is starting her sophomore year at a new school. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Violet is about find herself in the company of ghosts . . . both playful and deadly evil. Standing at the threshold to an unseen world with newfound friends at her side, only Violet can uncover the truth behind her mother’s death and save the family business--paranormal investigation.

Pre-order Spookygirl here!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Check it Out: Point Deception (Book Trailer)

Hi everyone! I'll be coming out of my self imposed hibernation in a few days to give you a new round of "Check it Out".

Until then, here's a trailer an author (Jim Gilliam) sent me for his new book Point Deception. I haven't read it, but it sounds like it should be an interesting read for some of you guys out there!





Point Deception is a suspense thriller, packed full of criminal activities, military action, and a likeable protagonist with a tortured soul.

Surviving the mean streets of New Orleans in 1956, young Tim Kelly begins a young Indiana Jones style adventure by lying about his age to join the Coast Guard at fourteen.

In lieu of a court martial Kelly volunteers for combat duty in Vietnam where three of his friends are killed in a friendly fire incident. Deeply mourning the loss of his friends, he releases his rage in an Air Force officer's club, earning him a less than honorable discharge.

Returning to his home state of Texas Kelly embarks on a new career as an undercover narcotics agent, entering the shadow world of drug and human trafficking sponsored by his old friend and mentor Rodolfo Guzman, a kingpin in the powerful Campeche drug cartel.

His failure to check in with his handler alerts a team of Texas lawmen who embark on an illegal, clandestine, armed incursion into the sovereign territory of Mexico to rescue Kelly, or recover his body. It is a bold and dangerous plan. Not even the most elite units of the Mexican federal police dared attack Rodolfo Guzman's hacienda--a renegade state within a state that did not answer to the Mexican government.

As the helicopter lifted off synchronized explosions of C4 completed the destruction of Rodolfo Guzman's once proud seventeenth century hacienda.

No one spoke during the short flight back to the safe house on the Texas side of the Rio Grande.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: Misfit by Jon Skovron


Title: Misfit
Author: Jon Skovron
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: 08/01/2011
ISBN: 1419700219







Sometimes first impressions can be deceiving. I know my first impression of this book certainly was. I'll admit that I was expecting something a little more mainstream & pat with this book, but what I was expecting wasn't really what I ended up getting.

Jael has always felt like a freak. She’s never kissed a boy, she never knew her mom, and her dad’s always been superstrict—but that’s probably because her mom was a demon, which makes Jael half demon and most definitely not a normal sophomore girl. On her sixteenth birthday, a mysterious present unlocks her family’s dangerous history and Jael’s untapped potential. What was merely an embarrassing secret before becomes a terrifying reality. Jael must learn to master her demon side in order to take on a vindictive Duke of Hell while also dealing with a twisted priest, best-friend drama, and a spacey blond skater boy who may have hidden depths.

I was rather pleased with this book. While there were a few hiccups along the line, this is the start of a nice series. (I presume it'll be a series, anyway.) I loved that Jael both was & wasn't the typical YA heroine, all full of angst & googly eyes for her love interest. While part of her does have that, she's more intent on the more pressing matters at hand: her powers & the demons that want to kill her. Speaking of powers, I liked the way they were presented here. Teenaged girls with powers is a very commonly used trope in any genre, but you don't often have it shown as a partnership as it was in this book. It was a nice little twist on everything, one of many twists that are included in this book. My favorite twist had to be the new perspective on demons & the reasons why they're the way they are.

This doesn't mean that the book is without faults. I did enjoy the new little twists on demons & power, but the author's attempts to jump between past & present were just awkwardly done. Skovron does his best to make the transitions as smooth as possible, but I just kept getting thrown out of the narrative. They were well done by themselves, but I just have to emphasize the awkwardness.

Overall this was a decent book & far better than what I was expecting it to be. I really was just expecting either a run of the mill YA read or one of those books where the author tries far too hard to make it "different", but it's neither. Skovron has managed to find that thin line between traditional & untraditional, then embrace it.

3.5/5

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: My Boyfriend Bites by Dan Jolley


Title:
My Boyfriend Bites (My Boyfriend is a Monster #3)
Author: Dan Jolley
Artist: Alitha E. Martinez
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Release Date: 09/1/2011
ISBN: 0761370781







When I first picked up this series via Made for Each Other (book 2 in the series), I was a little underwhelmed. I'd been told that there were better entries out there, so I picked this one up to see if that was the case & I'm happy to say that it is.

Vanessa Shingle has a knack for choosing boyfriends who need fixing—the juvenile delinquent, the school cheat, the slacker….Then she meets Jean-Paul McClellan—the perfect project!

Vanessa is determined to find out Jean-Paul's story. Why would such a smart hunk waste his life as a janitor? She drags her best friend Stork on a nighttime mission to learn more. What she sees makes her blood run cold.

Suddenly, Vanessa's little New Mexico town is overrun by vampires—obnoxious ones at that. And Vanessa seems to be their target. Is Jean-Paul one of them? If so, why is he being so nice to her? When he talks about prophecies and legacies and Romania, what's he really up to?

Vanessa finds herself with a real situation to fix—and she stakes her life on being able to rise to the challenge.

While the content was definitely inspired by various vampire hunting heroes (Buffy anyone?), this comic takes that inspiration & manages to turn it into something new & fun. You won't care that you've seen it before in a different incarnation. You'll be too busy tearing through the pages & rooting for Vanessa.

I absolutely loved that Jolley managed to give Vanessa just enough depth to keep her from being a cardboard cutout as well as avoiding the temptation to keep from giving her any flaws. (It's quite easy to fall into that when your story only has so many pages for both plot & character development.) The illustrator also deserves a hand of applause for doing such a great job on the characters- I loved the way this looked.

My only complaint is that while Vanessa & Jean Paul are developed as characters, the secondary ones sort of fell to the wayside & other aspects of the book (the bad vamps, JP's bosses) weren't as well explored as I'd like. Since that would probably require at least 20-30 more pages, I can't really fault the team for focusing more on our two lead characters.

This really felt like the setup for a series, so I can only hope that Graphic Universe will allow us another look back into Vanessa's world. This has far too much promise & potential for just one entry.

4.5/5


(ARC provided by Netgalley)