Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Beyond Bounds

Have you been reading the Dante Valentine series? If not you need to read the latest Beyond Bounds up over at Blogcritics. I love this series, it truly is fantastic. Such great characters and a solid world. The fourth book hits shelves tomorrow and the fifth and final one in January. I can't wait to see how it all turns out. Please let Japh and Dante stay together!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New Nora Roberts Trilogy!

ISBN: 0515143804
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 336pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: November 27, 2007
Price: $7.99

I've only recently started reading Nora Roberts. I got hooked in with her Circle Trilogy. I then read the first two books of her Key Trilogy and I have several of her novels sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. The one complaint I have is that after reading the Circle Trilogy her Key Trilogy was too similar to make me want to finish it right away. She seems to have a format that she follows and doesn't change too much. But it works. And I'll keep reading.

And on that note you can read an excerpt of Blood Brothers. Or check out the trailer for the book and the next two in the series.


In the small village of Hawkins Hollow, three best friends who share the same birthday sneak off into the woods for a sleepover the evening before turning 10. But a night of pre-pubescent celebration turns into a night of horror as their blood brother oath unleashes a three-hundred year curse.

Twenty-one years later, Cal Hawkins and his friends have seen their town plagued by a week of unexplainable evil events two more times - every seven years. With the clock winding down on the third set of seven years, someone else has taken an interest in the town's folklore. Quinn is a well known scholar of local legends, and despite Cal's protests, insists on delving in the mystery. But when the first signs of evil appear months early, it's not only the town Cal tries to protect, but also his heart.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Meredith Fletcher's Latest

ISBN: 0373389752
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 288pp
Publisher: Silhouette
Pub. Date: November 2007
Price: $5.50

I've got this one waiting on my stack. I'm such a sucker for a good love story. And plus the girl's name is Winter! Winter. How cool is that name? I'm looking forward to diving into this one.



Juicy stories are investigative reporter Winter Archer's bread and butter. So when her beloved mentor asks her to write the biography of Athena Academy's founder, Winter jumps at the chance. But someone out there will stop at nothing—not even murder—to ensure that long-buried secrets remain hidden. And Winter can't finish the job unless she joins forces with the one man who is most definitely off-limits. Only together can they uncover the deadly plot that spans decades and threatens to destroy a legacy...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Beyond Bounds

The weekly (or not so weekly) feature has gone up over at Blogcritics. I did this one over Juno Books. So there is a little bit of history about this small press as well as a round of up the titles that I have read and the ones that are in my to be read stack. Check it out!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

'My Life in France' by Julia Child with Alex Prud'Homme

ISBN: 0316067253
Format: Paperback, 304pp
Publisher: Little Brown Bks Young Readers
Pub. Date: October 2007

I can remember watching Julia Child on TV with my mom when I was little. I never sat and watched long; the distraction of playing house or a new Barbie always pulled me away, and running off I didn’t think twice about the woman on the screen with the funny accent. Then during my adolescence we took one of many trips to Washington D.C. to see the capital and visit the Smithsonian. There they have Julia Child’s complete kitchen, which she had donated to the National Museum of American History in 2001. I didn’t remember who Julia Child was and when I asked my mom she said simply, “She’s famous for cooking.”

I’ve never been much of a cook, I try and I am successful in some things, but the passion to cook doesn’t burn deep in my heart. I enjoy cookbooks though; I enjoy the idea that I too could create something so lovely and delicious. I buy them and try recipes only to be kicked out of the kitchen by my husband, the real cook in the family. But the wonderful thing about My Life in France is that you don’t have to be a cook to enjoy this delightful memoir about food, love, and life.

In the introduction Julia states “This is a book about some of the things I have loved most in life; my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating. It is also something new for me. Rather than a collection of recipes, I’ve put together a series of linked autobiographical stories, mostly focused on the years 1948 through 1954, when we lived in Paris and Marseille, and also a few of our later adventures in Provence. Those early years in France were among the best of my life.”

It all started in 1948 when Julia Child followed her husband, Paul Child, across the Atlantic aboard the SS America. Newly married and never having been to Europe before, though she did serve during World War II in Asia, she wasn’t sure what to expect. But to her delight France, particularly Paris, was absolutely wonderful.

Paris was where she learned to cook, taking lessons in the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school. Though Julia earned a diploma from this prestigious school she was mostly self-taught. Spending hours, days even, perfecting a simple recipe for mayonnaise or cooking the same dish from three or four different cookbooks, she poured her entire being into learning the correct way to do even the simplest task. Out of this passion her first cookbook with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was born.

Mixed into the stories are wonderful photographs taken by Paul Child as well as a handful of family photos. Glimpses of Paris in the late 1940s, Julia leaning out of their apartment window, and pictures of Julia teaching others to cook or learning herself; these black and white photos added so much to the rest of the book.

Julia Child passed away in 2004 but her passion for life and food still lives on through her many cookbooks and this memoir My Life in France. Passionate and fascinating I could not put it down as I read about Paris in the early 1950s. Julia’s first forays into the kitchen, her first real cooking lessons and the fire that burned within her to learn more; it makes for some of the best reading I’ve come across in nonfiction in a long time. My Life in France is a wonderful tale of self-discovery through cooking and food, stories that you will enjoy and that only leave you wishing for more.

Friday, October 26, 2007

'Betwixt' by Tara Bray Smith

ISBN: 031606033X
Format: Hardcover, 496pp
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $17.99

In Betwixt, Tara Bray Smith’s young adult debut, the author carefully sets the scene, meticulously building and placing each character in their human environment. But normal teenage things such as parties, parents, and relationships take on new meanings when you realize that these three normal-seeming teenagers are anything but.

Morgan is the perfect girl. Perfect grades and perfect face but underneath the gloss she is cruel and cold-hearted. As you get to know her, as facets of her life are revealed, you realize that she could go either way. The light and the dark are both offering her an option. But Morgan is only out to get as much for herself as possible and in the end she’ll chose the highest bidder.

Nix is something special. Since his childhood he has been able to see a light around a person before they were about to die; depending on the intensity of the light he could tell how long they had left. Because of this he has spent a large portion of his life running from those he cared about. Along the way he has picked up a drug habit to keep the lights at bay and to try to be as normal as possible.

Ondine is a girl that seems to have it all. Not perfect like Morgan, who just happens to be intensely jealous of her, but with her dark skin and violet eyes she is a girl that just seems to have something extraordinary about her. When her parents move away for a year, leaving her in her hometown of Portland to finish out her senior year, Ondine throws a party to end all parties.

There the three that have so little in common come together. What they’ve been feeling for so long, the changes in their bodies and minds, is hinted at. A mysterious boy by the name of Moth tells the three to come to a huge rave, The Ring of Fire, where they will learn the truth about themselves. Nix, who has been running for so long, is told to bring Ondine who is easily lost; while Morgan, headstrong and defiant, finds her own way there.

But the Ring of Fire isn’t what any of them expect. The truths that they learn, the things about themselves that they come to realize are hard for them to swallow. Ondine flat out denies that she could be something other than human. But for Nix, who has been plagued for so long by the rings of light, is relieved that there is an explanation and that maybe, finally he can stop running. Morgan is the only member of the small group to embrace the idea wholeheartedly.

Betwixt is the first in a series, as the author says “The story has just started.” It starts a little slow but builds speed until you are hurtling toward the shocking end and I’m curious to see where Smith will take us next. The idea is solid; she introduces some new ideas and weaves in the old stand bys to create a story that leaves you asking questions. Betwixt is basically a new spin on the classic fairy tales involving changelings and fairies with all the modern trappings of drugs, sex, and rock‘n’roll.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Harry Potter in the News

With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a series that had become a phenomenon came to an end. But just because we've read the final chapter doesn't mean the news surrounding this famous series has come to an end as well.

Over at The Guardian they have an article about how Harry Potter broke a new record. "A rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has fetched the record-breaking price of £19,700 at auction."

Then of course we have the fact that J.K. Rowling outed Dumbledore. If you haven't heard about this yet all sorts of things can be read at the BBC News, E! News, Kansas City Star, Associated Press, Yahoo News, MTV (yes, let me repeat that MTV), ABC News, News Day, Daily Mail, Japan Today, The Globe and Mail, Sunday Mail, MSN News, and many many more. Trust me the list just goes on. It's all pretty much the same though.

Then over at Blogcritics Jet in Columbus asks Why Should it Matter?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

'A Lifetime of Secrets' by Frank Warren

ISBN: 0061238600
Format: Hardcover, 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $27.95

In 2005 Frank Warren launched a blog as an experiment in community art, inviting strangers to mail him anonymous homemade postcards with their secrets written on them. The only rule is that it has to be a true secret that you have never before shared. Be creative he told the masses. The response he received was overwhelming.

Each Sunday PostSecret is updated with all new secrets and every Monday morning, before I’ve poured my coffee or checked my work e-mail, I check PostSecret. Why do I read PostSecret? There are a lot of reasons. Each week it's different and each week I find a little bit of me in someone else’s words. Some make me cry, making me glad that I've come into the office early enough that I can cry in peace. Some make me laugh. Then there are the ones that steal my breath, break my heart, and make me want to reach out to who ever was brave enough to commit those words to paper. It’s all about making a connection even if it's only for the briefest of moments through an anonymous postcard and a computer screen or book.

In a Lifetime of Secrets, Frank Warren’s fourth collection, he says “I've selected postcards that show how secrets can reveal a momentary impulse or haunt us for decades and arranged them by age to follow the common journey we all take through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maturity. Stretched over a full lifespan, the secrets expose the meaningful ways we change over time, and the surprising ways we don't.”

Happy, sad, beautiful, ugly, ecstatic, ornate, simple and everything in between; this is another collection worth looking for a bit of yourself in. Where ever you are in your life right now, whatever your path there is someone else out there who knows what it’s like. It's nice to think that maybe you aren't really alone.I was reading secrets online a few weeks back and I saw one that really struck a cord with me. “We are all part of something bigger and we are all part of it together."

Do you have a secret? Share it. Let it go and know that somewhere out there someone will laugh, cry, or realize that their life isn't as lonely or as hard as they thought. Today is the day to let go.

13345 Copper Ridge Rd
Germantown, Maryland 20874

Monday, October 22, 2007

what I'm reading right now...

ISBN: 031606033X
Format: Hardcover, 496pp
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $17.99

I'm about half way through with this one at the moment. It started a little slow but it has picked up. It builds on you slowly, things creeping around the edges until finally they jump out. The writing is very good, Smith paints a vivid picture with her words.

Read an excerpt or check out the cool site that has been set up for the book.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Steve Martin Memoir

ISBN: 1416553649
Format: Hardcover, 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pub. Date: November 20, 2007
Price: $25.00

I saw this the other day while browsing online and I think I'll have to read it.


At age 10, Steve Martin got a job selling guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland. In the decade that followed, he worked in Disney's magic shop, print shop, and theater, and developed his own magic/comedy act. By age 20, studying poetry and philosophy on the side, he was performing a dozen times a week, most often at the Disney rival, Knott's Berry Farm.

Obsession is a substitute for talent, he has said, and Steve Martin's focus and daring his sheer tenacity are truly stunning. He writes about making the very tough decision to sacrifice everything not original in his act, and about lucking into a job writing for The Smothers Brothers Show. He writes about mentors, girlfriends, his complex relationship with his parents and sister, and about some of his great peers in comedy Dan Aykroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carl Reiner, Johnny Carson. He writes about fear, anxiety and loneliness. And he writes about how he figured out what worked on stage.

This book is a memoir, but it is also an illuminating guidebook to stand up from one of our two or three greatest comedians. Though Martin is reticent about his personal life, he is also stunningly deft, and manages to give readers a feeling of intimacy and candor. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs collected by Martin, this book is instantly compelling visually and a spectacularly good read.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Right now I have a stack of books I need to be reading. I need to read them because I've gotten them from the author, publisher, or some independent firm and the price of the book is one review. I like this arrangement for the most part. It cuts down on the amount of cash I spend each month. But the one down side is that I don't always have time to read the things I would just like to read.

The list below are the books that I am hoping to get around to sometime soon. I have copies already, just waiting to be opened and fallen in love with. Have you read any of them? What did you think about them? Love them? Hate them? Never read them? I'm dying to know.

  • Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  • Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
  • Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
  • Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
  • Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale by Holly Black
  • Nightengale's Lament: A Novel of the Nightside by Simon R. Green
  • Hex and the City: A Novel of the Nightside by Simon R. Green
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Love Bites by Lynsay Sands

Thursday, October 18, 2007

'Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook' by Jamie Oliver

ISBN: 1401322336
Format: Hardcover, 448pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $37.50

I love Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks. I have several on my shelf and in each one I always find recipes that I end up making over and over. Not to mention the recipes that I might never try but look good just the same. One of the things that makes Oliver’s cookbooks a must, beside the mouth-watering recipes, is the fact that he makes it seem so easy. He believes that you too can make your food look, as well as taste, just as good as the photographs that catch your eye. Makes me want to pick up my spatula.

Cook with Jamie is special though. All of the profit from the sale of this cookbook goes to the Fifteen Foundation, which is dedicated to helping young people. But Jamie says it so much better than I ever could:

“The idea behind Fifteen is pretty simple- every year we give a unique opportunity to a group of young people to become professional chefs. The kids we take on have had bit of a hard time and could do with a break. Many of them are homeless, have been raised in difficult circumstances, have spent time in prison or gone off the rails and got into drink and drugs. But at Fifteen we believe that we can inspire them to break habits and believe in themselves to become incredibly passionate chefs.”

So on that note we dive right into the kinds of things we should always have in our kitchens. Good knives, quality cookware, food processors, and all the other implements of kitchen torture. But not only does he cover the non-food items throughout the book, he talks about what cuts of meat to look for, veggies, fish, salad ingredients and simple dressings. He covers it all.

From Jamie’s Proper tomato salad to Southern Indian crab curry it all looks absolutely mouth-wateringly divine. There isn’t anything new here, just new takes on old recipes. But each one is presented in an easy manner making even the most intimidated newbie feel like they could tackle it.

And did I mention dessert? Yes, there is dessert too. Tea-Party Cupcakes, Classic Victoria sponge with all the trimmings, fifteen chocolate brownies, and a rather pleasing carrot cake with lime mascarpone icing. Yum!

Packed with recipes, over 175 with a focus on quality and freshness, Cook with Jamie is a must. And along with all those recipes he includes little personal notes about the food that makes Cook with Jamie more than just a cookbook. This is a book that you will pull out time and again to check measurements, share with your friends, or make sure you’ve got the right stuff for the job whether you’re making fresh pasta or roasting a turkey.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Beyond Bounds

The weekly post just went up and can be read over at Blogcritics.

'Lover Unbound' by J.R. Ward

ISBN: 0451222350
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 528pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: September 2007
Price: $7.99

I’ve heard J.R. Ward’s name a million times. Any time paranormal romance comes up, The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is always recommended reading. And all I’ve heard are good things. So I planed to pick up a book when I saw one, add it to my to-be-read pile, and I figured I would get around to it eventually.

This last weekend I was in my local super center and I saw a copy of Lover Unbound. When I picked it up I was surprised by how thick the book was; 502 page of small black type. I went ahead and bought it, thinking that I wouldn’t get around to it anytime soon.

Well Saturday night I picked it up. I wasn’t going to read it. I just wanted to browse a few pages. I told myself this firmly, I have so many other books I need to be reading. But once I picked Lover Unbound up I literally could not put it down. At four in the morning my husband finally made me turn the lights out.

Lover Unbound is the fifth book in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I haven’t read the rest of them, although I will now, but coming into the fifth book as a newbie was no problem. J.R. Ward fills in the details along the way and while you know that a lot of the characters have their own back stories the main focus of the novel is a new couple. So in a way it could stand on its own, though I bet it is better as a whole.

Vishous is a member of the Brotherhood, a select order of elite vampires who hunt lessers, which are a kind of vampire as well. There is a whole vampire hierarchy and the Brotherhood is pretty high up. But even though Vishous is a member of this select group he is still on the fringes. Having survived a horrible existence as a youth, Vishous is broken and hard with a taste for both sexes and S&M.

Jane is an ambitious doctor, head of emergency, and when Vishous comes under her care she takes an interest in him. With his facial tattoos, goatee, and six-foot muscled-up frame, he is quite an eye full. But Jane isn’t interested in what he looks on the outside; what catches her eye is his six-chambered heart. When the rest of Vishous’ brothers come to break him out of the hospital, they take Jane with them against her will.

There are a million storylines here. Characters from previous books come back, their storylines continuing, while new characters are introduced. But the main attraction is the story of Jane and Vishous. But even their love story isn’t simple; obstacle after obstacle is thrown in their way. Vishous’ destiny has been outlined for him and nowhere in that future is there room for Jane.

I’ve heard that this is the weakest of the series and I have to tell you Lover Unbound is pretty freaking fantastic. The pages fly, the characters draw you in and hold you with a strangle hold, and you are simply compelled to keep turning. I thought that 502 pages would be too long but by the time I reached the end I realized that it was not nearly long enough. I have a new favorite author.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

before you buy...

ISBN: 0316677469
Format: Hardcover, 304pp
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $24.99

Alice Sebold's latest novel has hit the shelves. Can't decide if you want to read it or not? Read John Crace's Digest Read over at the Guardian first.

Monday, October 15, 2007

'Unveiling the Sorceress' by Saskia Walker

ISBN: 0809557819
Format: Paperback, 224pp
Publisher: Juno Books
Price: $12.95

Unveiling the Sorceress, Saskia Walker’s second novel published by Juno Books, is lush and exotic. I was pulled into the story, unable to set the book down as the kingdoms of Aleem and Karseedia came to life on the page. With haunting imagery and strong characters the story is filled with intrigue and romance that blossoms on the page and captures the reader's attention.

Amshazar, a skilled magi favored by the gods, is sent by the Council of the Gods to the exotic lands to make sure that rumors of impending war that have been circulating do not come true. With Santo, a spirit guide that is more hindrance than help, Amashazar weaves his way into the court of Karseedia. He soon becomes an advisor to Hanrah, the next Emperor of Karseedia, if he can get out from under the thumb of Mehmet, his vicious mother.

Elishiba is the Empress of Aleem and is about to be married to Hanrah of Karseedia, to ensure that their two rival countries remain in the state of delicate peace. A strong-willed and determined woman, she also has the slumbering gift of sorcery in her veins. The gift is awakened when Amazhazar arrives in Aleem as part of the group that will escort Elishiba back to her new home. The two, though enemies, are soon drawn to each other.

Wanting to secure her people's safety, Elishiba travels to Karseedia. There she meets Hanrah, her husband to be, and Mehmet, her future mother-in-law. The first meeting does not go well, and soon we learn that Mehmet does not plan to let Elishiba live long past her marriage day. But Elishiba’s strong will and her magical talent, not to mention Amshazar himself, all play a part in making sure she comes out alive.

The supporting characters are just as finely drawn as the main characters: Kerr the Karseedia slave that is taken into Elishiba’s private household; the twins Elra and Amra, who welcome him with open arms; Hanrah and his evil mother; each is unique and holds a thread that weaves through this intricate tale of intrigue and magic.

If you are looking for a quick read that will carry you away to somewhere else, Saskia Walker will take you there with Unveiling the Sorceress.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

'Dark Hunger' by Christine Feehan (Graphic Novel)

ISBN: 0425217833
Format: Paperback, 208pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $10.00

While reading Dark Hunger I found myself giggling horribly like some preteen girl reading her mother’s explicit romance novel. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but it was just so hard to take seriously. Its all-over-the-top dramatic dialogue set against the backdrop of a handsomely drawn long-haired man and a busty brunette. Throw in a little blood, some shape-shifting fight scenes, and a few moments gone hazy with love and you have something that is just so hard to put down!

Riordan is a Carpathian male who has been captured and held prisoner by a master vampire. Juliette is a shape-shifter who breaks into a lab in the middle of the jungle to release the animals being held there. She finds Riordan chained in a cell and sets him free. Immediately he realizes that she is his life mate, though it takes a little longer to convince her of that fact.

But once Juliette accepts the truth of the matter we move on to find out that her cousin and little sister are in trouble. The master vampire, the one that Riordan had been hunting but was captured by, was indirectly involved by helping rouged shape-shifting males. So with Riordan by her side, Juliette charges into the jungle to avenge her family and free her captured sister.

Carpathian’s hunt vampires mostly because they are capable of becoming a vampire if they surrender to the darker side of their nature. Which is why Feehan’s books are so successful. Every woman loves to read about the hard-to-reach guy that has this lurking dark side but also just happens to have a heart of gold. Wait! Isn’t that most romance novels? Anyway, it works just as well in graphic format at it does typed out word-for-word.

The artwork is fair, it isn’t anything fantastic, but it isn’t the worst I’ve seen. I really enjoyed the idea of Christine Feehan’s novels being done in a graphic format, I think that it brings a lot to her ongoing series. Plus it’s just plain fun.

The story is pretty basic, a hunky alpha male goes for the luscious brunette, tells her that he is her life mate and she falls head over heels (and lets face it, Girls, it works). We don’t need anymore of the story because they are simply meant to be and he’s immortal as well as being gorgeous. (If it gets any more sickly sweet I think I’ll have to go watch some zombie movies.)

If you haven’t read the rest of Christine Feehan’s novels you will sink right into the story without feeling as if you have missed something. As it is you get a good idea and it really only whets the appetite for something a bit longer and with less pictures.

And after all that, the giggling like a preteen and setting the book aside when it just got to be too disgustingly romantic, I love it. I love it and yes I will be buying the next one in the series. I just can’t help myself. Dark Hunger is my new guilty pleasure.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Kahnee Interviews Carole McDonnell

My friend and fellow blogger Kahnee, over at Single & Blessed, recently had the chance to talk to Carole McDonnell about her debut book Wind Follower. I've picked a few of my favorite questions and answers but when you're done reading here you should follow the link and check out the rest of the interview.

Who are the two main characters in Wind Follower, and why do you think readers will love them?

Satha is the main female character. She’s a poor girl who finds herself suddenly betrothed one day to a rich kid. Very upsetting for her. But she does it. She’s practical and kind-hearted. Loic is the boy who suddenly decides he wants to marry her. He’s kind also, and he’s a typical petulant teenager who grows into manhood. Loic is not the regular hero. He’s got an illness. He’s been under the care of women who dote on him. He reads poetry, for heaven’s sake. Not epic poetry, love poetry. When Loic first sees Satha, what he likes about her is that she is caring and brave. Yes, she's beautiful - but he what matters is that she is kind.

They’re both good people. And lots of amazingly fantastic, triumphant, and heart-breaking things happen to them. What more can you ask for? The stories share a common plot but when the main characters are parted, Satha’s part becomes something like a slave narrative and Loic’s becomes a quest. Yes, Every African-American writer should write a slave narrative, don’t you think? It’s epic, and romance, and slave narrative. The reader should like it.

Where do you think speculative fiction is heading?

I really don’t know. Humans have always liked stories of the supernatural and the fantastic. As long as we’re fascinated with how the world works and with how different cultures work, we’ll love those stories. And, let’s face it, many stories are rooted in human sorrow. For instance, if we live in regret we think “what if I had done something differently?” Bingo, a time travel story is created. Writers who don’t like modern society might write a book in which history veered along a different path. Voila, an alternate history novel! A writer grieving for the loss of her dead child might do a novel on cloning. Science Fiction and Fantasy will always exist as long as writers and readers keep pondering the great “what if” of life. I think, though, that in the United States and Canada speculative fiction will become more multicultural. At least I hope so.

read the rest of the review here...

Friday, October 12, 2007

oh la la!

ISBN: 0425217833
Format: Paperback, 208pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pub. Date: October 2007
Price: $10.00

I borrowed this from a friend and will have a review up soon!

Publisher Review:

The New York Times bestselling author's Carpathian classic goes Manga! I've flipped through it and from what I could see it looks great. Plus it's only 208 pages?! Why wouldn't you read it?

Christine Feehan has reinvented the vampire novel with her New York Times bestselling Carpathian series. Now she and Berkley take her "out-of-the-ordinary" (Booklist) in a thrilling new direction--and this time it's more graphic than ever.

Riordan is an immortal Carpathian male, trapped and caged, his honor compromised by his captors. They're in his mind. They're in his blood. And not one can withstand his desire for revenge.

Juliette is an activist devoted to liberating animals from a secret jungle lab. What she stumbles upon is a prisoner like no other. She will release him from his bonds. He will release her from her inhibitions.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bryson and Shakespeare

ISBN: 0060740221
Format: Hardcover, 208pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: October 23, 2007
Price: $19.95

I'm a huge fan of Bill Bryson. I always enjoy reading his travel essays (some of which I reread whenever I have the free time) and I loved A Short History of Nearly Everything. He recently released a memoir and with his newest book he steers clear of the travel once again. I haven't yet read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid which just came out in paperback and I plan to buy a copy ASAP. And this one? I'll have to look into it as well.

Kirkus Reviews:

A telling glance at one of history's most famously unknowable figures. As sometimes happens with expatriates, journalist Bryson (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, 2006, etc.) often turned his attention to his native America during his 20-year residence in England (Made in America, 1995, etc.). Apparently he's now been back home long enough to look the other way in this 12th volume in James Atlas's well-received Eminent Lives series. And who better fits the bill for this assortment of brief biographies than Shakespeare, the literary behemoth who practically defines the Western canon yet boasts a CV that could hardly be slimmer.

As the typically wry Bryson observes, "It is because we have so much of Shakespeare's work that we can appreciate how little we know of him as a person. . . . faced with a wealth of text but a poverty of context, scholars have focused obsessively on what they can know." Bryson is just as happy to point out what we can't.

To him, Shakespeare is the "literary equivalent of an electron-forever there and not there." Indeed, he makes so much of the fact that so much has been made from the singularly few known facts of the Bard's life that one might say this thin volume's raison d'etre is to identify the many paradoxes surrounding all things Shakespeare, which Bryson candidly illuminates in several deft turns of phrase.

That is as good a track as any to take in this sort of Cliffs Notes-style overview of the rich afterlife and times of Shakespeare, recognized as great, Bryson claims, for his "positive and palpable appreciation of the transfixing power of language"-a point on which even those who don't believe Shakespeare was Shakespeare would agree, anda trait he happens to share with his biographer. Shakespeare redux for the common reader.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

'Once Bitten, Twice Shy' by Jennifer Rardin

Format: Paperback, 308pp
Publisher: Orbit
Price: $12.99

Before I started reading Once Bitten, Twice Shy I had read several reviews that claimed that this was a good book, a great book even. But in no way was I prepared for how truly wonderful Once Bitten, Twice Shy turned out to be. I loved it, plain and simple as that.

The story kicks off with Jaz and Vayl working together in Miami. Vayl is a vampire assassin, one of the CIA’s best, and Jaz is his bodyguard/assistant assassin. Six months previously Vayl had requested that she be assigned to him, since then the two have been dancing a fine line between working partners and something more.

When a routine assassination in Miami turns into a plot to infect the planet with a deadly virus, Vayl and Jaz find themselves in the middle of it. With a dirty senator on one side and a crazed fanatic on the other they must discover what links all the players together. Unsure of who they can trust or where they can turn Jaz and Vayl turn to each other.

Along the way we met a cast of supporting characters that are perfect; private investigator Cole, who just happens to find Jaz irresistible, to the irradiation of Vayl. Liliana, Vayl’s vampire ex-wife, who we love to hate; Cassandra, a psychic who helps Jaz tap into some of her extra ordinary gifts and Bergman, a freelance tech guy for the CIA, and one of Jaz’s oldest friends.

Jaz’s inner dialogue was fun, she’s a smart-ass and has a bit of temper but you just love her all the more for it. She does have an edge most of the time but underneath all that is a woman who has been to hell and back. Jaz loves her family, even if they get on her nerves; she loves her country, her job and will do whatever it takes to keep Vayl safe. This is a character that you fall in love with from the start. Who wouldn’t like a smart-mouth assassin with a penchant for nice cars?

Something else I loved about Once Bitten, Twice Shy is that it starts out so simple. You think that you already know how the story will go and as you read on you realize that this is something completely new. Jennifer Rardin is a name to watch and if you haven’t yet picked up her debut then you should. I already can’t wait to read the second, Another One Bites the Dust.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Why do you love Postsecret?

ISBN: 0061238600
Format: Hardcover, 144pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $27.95

I love Postsecret. I have a lot of reasons why I do. While reading Frank Warren's collections or browsing the new secrets every Sunday on his blog I am always amazed that I am not alone. Have I sent secrets off? Yes. I have friends who have as well. The funny thing is that we haven't talked about the ones we have sent off. I don't think that we ever will. But they are out there, the truth, the pain and beauty of the hurt that lurks inside the soul. Today is the day to see if your secret made it into the new collection.

Monday, October 8, 2007

'Beg for Mercy' by Toni Andrews

ISBN: 077832365X
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 320pp
Publisher: Mira
Price: $6.99

Beg for Mercy is one paranormal novel that (insert gasp here) has no vampires, werewolves, or magic. Crazy, huh? But for Toni Andrews and her character Mercy it works just as well without those things, and as much as I love those elements, it’s nice to dip into the paranormal without them.

Mercy has something she calls ‘the press’ which is a psychic ability she can use to make people do what she says. Mercy has learned that using her ability can cause problems, so she has put as much emotional distance between her and the rest of humanity as humanly possible. But no one is ever truly alone, as Mercy soon learns, and when she needs them, the friends she thought she never had coming running.

But before Mercy can learn some things about herself a whole bunch of stuff has to go wrong first. When her best friend Sukey brings another unsuitable guy around and gets burned, Mercy is there to pick up the pieces. Sukey gets drugged and dumped at the local emergency room and once Mercy is sure that Sukey is all right she goes in search of the guy who did this to her best friend. When she finds him she presses him to get out of town and never come back.

You would think that this should solve the problem for everyone. This is where you would be wrong and where handsome Dominic walks into the picture. Dominic claims to be a relative to the missing man and refuses to leave Mercy alone once he realizes she had something to do with his disappearance. At first he is charming and suave but soon he reveals a much darker side as he tries to press his own answers out of Mercy.

Along the way Mercy meets Sam, the new guy in town, and the two hit it off. Sam is recovering from a failed relationship and although he is attracted to Mercy he doesn’t like the fact that she seems to be keeping so many secrets from him. Both characters are damaged goods, two broken people in a broken world, but they somehow manage to keep it together.

Then things go from bad to worse as Sukey goes missing - thanks to Dominic. Mercy is given an ultimatum and warned that if she does not follow through her friend’s life is at stake. From there it is a wild ride as Mercy tries to discover where Sukey is and how she can save her.

The story takes place in Balboa, California and the setting is just as important as any of the colorful characters. The small town feel, the local bar, and marina all play a big part and Toni Andrews paints the setting perfectly.

Beg for Mercy is a paranormal tale with light romance thrown in but what drives the story forward, and kept me turning pages well past 2 in the morning, was the search and rescue of Sukey. The first in a series, Angel of Mercy has a release date of May 2008, and I can’t wait to see what adventures Mercy will have next.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

An Interview with Matthew Cook

Blood Magic is Matthew Cook’s debut and once I started reading I found myself unable to put the book down as Kirin’s past and present rushed toward each other in a story that simply demands to be read. Mr. Cook recently took the time to answer some of my burning questions about his new novel as well as his writing and publishing experiences.

What started you writing?

MC: I’ve been scribbling stories for almost as long as I can remember, actually. I remember showing some sort of Scooby Doo-esque monster whodunit to my grandfather when I was in grade school one time. He told me that he could see me being a writer one day and encouraged me to keep at it. He’s who I wrote Blood Magic's Dedication for (thanks again, Pops).

For years, I channeled my storytelling creativity into role-playing games instead of formal stories or novels. I’ve been in several regular gaming groups since college, some for years and years, generally always with me as the Game Master. This was very fun, of course, and fulfilled my urge to tell tales, but eventually decided that I wanted to actually say something that more than six or seven people could hear.

Eventually, I decided to take a chance and start writing an actual novel. It was insane: I was 35, a father of two with a full time job and countless creative "hobbies" on the side (photography, illustration, editing the PC games and hardware section for and there I was deciding to begin a writing career on top of everything else, not with short stories like most normal authors, but with a full-blown novel. Thinking back on it, it’s crazy that I ever got off the ground.

The story I decided to tell was one that I’d had rolling around in my head ever since I was an art student in Chicago. It was going to be a tale of a regular guy that ends up in the middle of a faerie war. Part of it was my missing the city: I still love Chicago and there’s a part of me that still wants to go back there one day. The mental imagery I have from that place is still so strange and unique and, well, magical, that I wanted to share it with others. I never finished that piece, but the three years that I worked on it taught me a tremendous amount about consistency and the work ethic that a novelist needs to have if they have any chance of completing a manuscript.

Since you work during the day, how and where do you find the time to work on your novel?

MC: That’s an excellent question, and it’s one that I hear quite often any time would-be writers start talking about the actual writing process. In my case, I tried several different methods of working before I hit on the one that works best for me.

I’m a night owl, so at first I tried working in the late evenings, after my family had gone to bed. It was nice and relaxing, but I found that I was too easily distracted by the web to remain focused. Often, I’d go off on a quest to do some online research and end up at 3:00 AM without a word written. I filled countless Word documents with facts that I planned to use in my writing, but very little in the way of the actual story. After a month or two of this, I’d become discouraged and abandon the story for weeks or months.

Then I read in several different author’s autobiographies or essays on writing that many of them began by getting up early, before their day jobs, to work on their fiction. Now, you have to understand: for an insomniac like me, getting up before I needed to was little different from pouring boiling oil down my pants, so I initially resisted the idea. Eventually, though, the pain of not writing exceeded the pain of getting up early, so I gave it a shot.

I think I wrote fewer than 10 pages that entire first month, all of which I ended up tossing since they were basically unreadable. But, the habit stuck. Now, I get up about 90 minutes early four to five days a week to write before work. I go to coffee places, wherever I can sit quietly and type. The swirl of people around me is actually a great distraction and seems to keep my mind limber. The deadline I have to honor if I’m to get to my job on time keeps me focused, and I can generally complete about five to seven pages every morning – that adds up week after week and month after month.

How can you not work from an outline? I always find myself getting lost without one.

MC: The answer is... I have no idea. I like to have a few pages written sketching out the overall flow of the story... This happens and then this other thing happens and somehow this last thing ends up happening as a result... that sort of thing. But I seldom know all the deeper connections until I start working. Most of the time, even I end up having those "Oh,... so that's why this guy was so hostile to my main character back in Chapter five!" moments. I like to think it's my subconscious playing shell games with my sanity.

Does that mean I never get lost? Hell no. I get lost all the time. Sometimes my little side trips lead to sub-plot swamps that I almost don't escape.... Sometimes that wastes my time while I backtrack, although I'm getting better with that the more I write. But it's so damn fun to see where the paths go that I think it's worth the extra effort. After all, if it stops being fun for me than I can't (or, more properly - won't) do it any more.

What has the publishing experience been like for you so far?

MC: So far it’s been absolutely wonderful. I feel so lucky that I ended up meeting Paula Guran from Juno Books at Context 2006, and that she decided to take a chance on my manuscript. Paula makes the entire process, from editing, to contracts, to PR, very easy for me and enjoyable. I don’t know what other people’s experiences with publishers has been, but I’m finding that so long as you remain professional and respectful of their time, working writers and editors are among the nicest people on the planet (even the curmudgeons, of which spec fiction has more than its share).

That’s not to say that it’s been easy. There’s an amazing amount of stress that a writer has to endure when they finally get to the point where they feel ready to start putting their work out into the world for consideration. If you’re not careful, you can get your ego seriously stomped into the mud. I think the thing that all writers have to remember, though, is that editors are not the enemy! Without a writer’s stories, an editor would have nothing to publish. No publishing means no money for the imprint or magazine. Editors are actively looking for new writers and new manuscripts, believe me, and most (if not all) of them got into genre editing not to strike it rich but because they love to read the kind of stories we write. Just remember to always be polite and respectful, write about things you’re genuinely excited about, and always… always… do everything you can to continuously polish your writing and one day you’ll probably sell.

When it comes to dark fantasy, since you just happening to be writing it, what do you recommend reading?

MC: Well, I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy authors like Emma Bull and Charles de Lint, and I’d recommend anything from either author. I’ve been very impressed with the work of Holly Black recently, as well – there’s definitely some dark themes happening there, if that’s your cup of tea.

Also, Juno Books (my publisher) put out a "Sneak Peek" booklet a few months back containing the first four chapters of my book, along with the first part of Silvia Kelso’s new novel Amberlight, and I have to say I was very, very impressed. Juno’s had some challenges getting Amberlight to market, but they seem to have worked through them, and I’ll definitely be picking up a copy when it’s released in November.

I think that in many ways the crime fiction genre goes well with fantasy, dark or otherwise – after all, the world portrayed in, say, a Dashiel Hammet novel is in many ways as "fantastic" as a modern fantasy. I’ve been reading a lot from James Swain recently as well, and find his Tony Valentine novels very entertaining. In this same vein, I just finished Warren Hammond’s first novel, KOP, which is a Sci-Fi, hard-boiled cop story. Not really "dark fantasy" but good stuff, nonetheless.

I also think that if you like it dark (so to speak) you really should look outside of the genre publishers - at authors like Joyce Carol Oates. Some of the stuff she writes about, both in her short fiction as well as in her novels is more chilling than practically anything I’ve read that’s been published specifically as "dark fantasy" or even "horror". Plus, she has a way of building images with words that is, quite literally, breathtaking. Chuck Palahniuk, the guy who wrote Fight Club (among other great novels) really has a way with imagery that’s at once startlingly lovely and equally disturbing as well, and I can’t recommend him enough.

As a male author did you find it hard to find your female protagonists' voice?

MC: You know, maybe it’s because I’m constantly living in my head and imagining what other people would say or do in a certain situation, but I don’t think it was terribly hard, no. I have to admit, though, that I was really terrified that my "voice" for Kirin (the main character in Blood Magic) would come off as sounding like a man trying to write like a woman, and would somehow sound false to a female reader. Add in the fact that I decided to write the whole thing in first person point-of-view, and that many of the issues that the character has to deal with are very specific to women (motherhood, enduring an abusive marriage, etc.), and basically I ended up petrified that what I was saying and writing would be a flop.

Luckily, I have a tremendous "alpha reader", Jen, that convinced me that I wasn’t totally off in left field with what I wanted to say (or how I wanted to say it), and any time that I was out of my depth, she was able to steer me back onto the right path. My wife, Kara, also has a really unique outlook on the world and possesses a tremendously strong personality, so it’s no wonder that I see a lot of her in Kirin as well. I guess I’m just lucky that I like strong women because I seem to surround myself with them. They inform so much of what I do.

Do you think that the non-traditional romance of the book will scare prospective readers away?

MC: God, I hope not. I mean, love is love, right? Who cares if that love is that of a man for a women or a women for a man, or something different like that of a women for another woman, etc.? What matters is the emotion, not the physical act (at least, to me).

In Blood Magic, though, the nature of Kirin and Lia’s relationship is more about friendship and loyalty than a more traditional "romance". Honestly, I wouldn’t know how to write a "romance novel" if I tried – I know that genre is just chock-full of talented writers and very specific themes and tropes. In Blood Magic, I just tried to show two people that get thrown into a stressful, life-threatening situation and turn to each other for support.

I should probably explain here that I generally "make it up as I go" when I sit down to write, and very seldom work from a formal outline, so often I find my characters doing or saying things that I hadn’t anticipated. It can be a lot of fun, but it can be a huge time waster, especially when one of their little side-plots doesn’t pan out, but that’s how I’m most comfortable working.

That being the case, when Kirin and Lia began to deepen their relationship, it sort of came as a shock to me. Initially, I thought of Lia as more of a youthful sidekick-type than the powerful, full partner she ended up becoming, so it was startling to me when she began to outgrow my own preconceived notions. I love it when that happens. It’s that friendship (in my opinion) that makes everything that happens to the two of them bearable.

The second book of your trilogy, Nights of Sin, has a release date for 2008. Can you share any hints of what Kirin and Lia might be up to next?

MC: Sure! In Book Two, Kirin and Lia travel to the Imperial City to continue their struggle against the Mor. My goal for the story was to answer some crucial questions that were only hinted at in the first book, specifically: why exactly are the Mor attacking humans and how does Kirin fit in?

Also, I really wanted to put a strain on their relationship. One of my favorite authors, Connie Willis, said in a discussion panel once that "in a story, things must always get worse" and that when a writer is stuck as to where to go in a plot, to torment the characters. I was never stuck on where to go in Book Two’s plot (a benefit of my "making it up as I go" process), but I took that advice to heart, and I think you’ll definitely see things getting tougher for Kirin and Lia as Book Two progresses.

I also really wanted to talk about deeper themes than I usually see in fantasy books, specifically the way that even good relationships are affected by mistrust, dishonesty and lies, and setting these all-too-human themes against the backdrop of a "fantasy zombie/ monster-invasion with a touch of courtly intrigue" story was oddly appealing to me. With a little luck, hopefully the readers will find it intriguing and entertaining, and maybe even a little chilling, as well.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Beyond Bounds

I've got this week's feature up over at Blogcritics. I wanted to say thanks to Chris and The Fantasy Book Critic (because I linked to both of your sites, hope you get lots of traffic)

check out this weeks feature

Thursday, October 4, 2007

'Blood Magic' by Matthew Cook

ISBN: 0809572001
Format: Paperback, 264pp
Publisher: Juno Books
Price: $6.99

Blood Magic is Matthew Cook’s debut and I have to admit that for a first book I am more than a little impressed. Once I started reading I found myself unable to put the book down as Kirin’s past and present rushed toward each other in a story that simply demands to be read. Not only does Cook tell a strong story, he gives us a strong convincing female protagonist, something not all male writers can pull off.

Blood Magic is divided into two parts, the chapters alternating between Kirin’s present and past. From her childhood and young adult life ruled by her twin sister to the years she spent as a necromancer and then a scout, her tale is full of pain and suffering. Made strong through the choices she was forced to make she becomes something that even she does not fully understand.

When Kirin’s twin is savagely murdered, Kirin avenges her death. In the process she transforms herself from a green-eyed beauty to a black eyed necromancer with powerful blood magic. Kirin runs from the small town she had called home and lives for years in the wilderness before becoming a scout for the Imperial Army. When the Mor, an army of creatures that have lived for generations under the earth, start to attack human settlements once again, Kirin joins the fight against them.

Along the way Kirin meets Lia Cho, a sorceress able to call lightening from the sky. Lia has left her school in the mountains and is headed for her father in the capital city, knowing that he needs her help. A priest by the name of Ato travels with Lia and knows Kirin for what she is by her black eyes. He tries to warn Lia away, but Lia and Kirin are drawn together. One light and one dark, the characters play off each other perfectly.

While Kirin does come to find love in the form of Lia, this is not your traditional romance. This is the story of Kirin - witch, necromancer, user of dark blood magic and the people who have come into her life, Lia being one of them. Cook also puts a nice spin on the idea of necromancy. Kirin can call souls back to their bodies, but the bodies do not rise whole; instead, what Kirin calls her ‘sweetlings’ are birthed from the cocoon of flesh. Short and made of exposed muscle and tendon, they are lethal warriors she uses to defend herself.

The world is pure fantasy, a medieval-feeling place that lacks all modern technology. There are odd six-legged beasts but other than that it feels like a long lost Earth. I would have liked to know more about the deadly Mor -- why are they attacking the humans after so many years? But since Blood Magic is the first in a trilogy (the second book has a working title of Nights of Sin and a release date is set for July of 2008), I’m sure that all will be revealed in time. The characters are solid, Kirin exceptional, and the story is perfectly balanced between the past and the present.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Colleen Gleason on Books & Blogging

Last March I got the chance to talk to Colleen Gleason about her new series, The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, which kicked off with The Rest Falls Away. At that point her second book, Rises the Night, had not yet been released. Now with the first and second book on the shelves I am waiting for the third book, The Bleeding Dusk, to be released.

I once again had the opportunity to ask her some questions. From her latest read, her blogging experiences, and her newest book she took the time to share her thoughts with us and gives us just enough hints to make the wait for the third book nearly unbearable.


I read on your blog, For All the World to See, that the Gardella Vampire Chronicles were picked up in Italy, and I loved the cover. How many countries have you been published in now? How does it feel?

I thought the Italian cover was really neat; and a very different concept than the American version. Very atmospheric and gothic (and a little bloody, too), to go along with the Italian title: The Vampire Hunter. The Italian version is being released in early November, and I expect the Spanish version will come out within the next six to eight months. There are other negotiations for foreign editions going on as I write this, and I hope within the next year, there will be more.

In addition, I’ve already heard of people seeing and buying the American version of the book in Scotland, Hong Kong, Australia, and South Korea, so it’s pretty exciting to know that people all over the world have seen and read The Rest Falls Away and Rises the Night. I get email from people from places like Brazil, Spain, and Belgium, too. It’s a wonderful experience to touch global readers.

I’ve noticed that besides the time that you must set aside to work on your novels you also blog every day, or almost every day. What do you like so much about blogging that it keeps you posting?

When I first started blogging, it was hard to come up with interesting or relevant things to write about, but I wanted to establish an Internet presence before my books were released as part of my marketing plan. I’ve made some great friends via my blog (and theirs) in the last year since I started blogging regularly, and it’s become a lot easier to maintain the blog — partly because I know who my audience is. I have regular fans who visit the blog, as well as other surfers who come by, but perhaps haven’t read the books or aren’t familiar with them.

I enjoy blogging because it gives me a chance to stay in touch with readers — to hear what they’re thinking, to find out what they’re interested in, to keep them up to date on my new releases, and to simply get to know them. The Internet has given authors the opportunity to interact with their readers in ways that we only dreamed of a decade ago, and I enjoy taking advantage of technology to do so. It’s really fun to get to know the people who read and enjoy my books, plus make friends along the way.

Authors who like to interact with their readers have Web sites, but that tends to be a one-way communication. That’s important, and of course, I have a Web site too, but I like blogging because it’s a two-way street. I don’t know that I’ll ever have message boards or an email list, so blogging is the next best thing. Plus that makes it open to anyone who happens along to my blog.

I try to make the blog an interactive place — I’m always asking for opinions, often holding contests, and I certainly do use it for self-promotion and updates. I’ve learned a lot, and solicited a lot of opinions from people over the year — from books to read, places to visit, opinions on movies, TV, and music, and other such topics. I had a Pay It Forward Contest on my blog last year, and got to see the best side of people when they posted about things they did to “pay it forward.”

Do you think that the blogs are a good place to get your book noticed?

I don’t think of my blog as a place that attracts people to my books, per se. I think my blog is a place that people find when they have already heard about my books. Either they get to it from my Web site, or from a link from another blog or site.

However, I absolutely love being interviewed or guest-posting on other peoples’ blogs! That’s one of the best ways I’ve found to get more name recognition, and to interest other people in my books — people who may not have heard about them, or who would normally not pick them up until they learn more about the books. I’m always extremely appreciative of anyone who offers to have me on their blog, or to allow me to guest-blog and answer questions about my books, being a writer, the publishing business, or anything else.

I do think that other blogs help to get my book noticed — I’ve seen it happen. Each blog has its own circle of influence, and any time one gets to be introduced to a new circle of readers, there’s a chance someone’s going to be interested. It’s the “I’ll tell two friends, they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends….” (Was that Wella Balsam? I can never remember.)

Have you read anything good lately?

Oooh! Of course. I just finished reading Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors, which I adored. This was a novel about the building of the Taj Mahal, and the (fictional) love story of Shah Jahan’s daughter, whose mother was the reason the Taj was built. It was a fabulous historical fiction novel, rich with detail and setting and custom. I loved it.

I also just reread several Barbara Michaels books that I’d read about two decades ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) — contemporary gothic romances that I just adored: Be Buried in the Rain and Shattered Silk.

And I’m just starting to read The Road to Hell, written by my friend Jackie Kessler, about a succubus who runs away from Hell and comes to New York to be a strip artist.

I remember reading somewhere, and I’m not sure where, that you were surprised that your books had been categorized as paranormal romances. Do you consider your Gardella Vampire Chronicles paranormal or historical fantasy?

I don’t think I was ever surprised that my publisher decided to market the series as paranormal romances, because I knew about it once the decision was made — but what you probably saw was my reaction to that decision. The publisher had to decide how to position the series, and from the beginning, it was a great point of discussion.

The books are technically not romances because in a romance, there is some kind of happily ever after ending between a hero and a heroine. This doesn’t happen in my books; there is an ongoing lead character, Victoria Gardella Grantworth, whose story we follow over five (planned) books — and while part of her story is her intimate, love relationships with the men in her life, the other part is her character development and the tasks and events that occur in her life. Because her story isn’t “wrapped up” until the last book, the series doesn’t perfectly fit into the paranormal romance genre.

Most people who are familiar with urban fantasy consider my books historical urban fantasy because of this aspect, and I don’t disagree — but at the same time, I sort of try not to categorize the books too much. They really do straddle a multitude of genres: historical fiction, romance, horror, action-adventure, etc. There’s something for everyone in the books, and there’s not too much of any one thing.

Your third book in the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, The Bleeding Dusk, comes out February 5, 2008. You said originally that it was going to be a five-book installment with Victoria and then you would move onto a new character. Now that you are coming closer to the end of the story, do you think she will be a hard character to let go?

Victoria and all of her supporting cast — yes, they will be hard to say good-bye to. The ones that are alive anyway. ;-) But I’m also always letting other main characters perk in the back of my mind as I write Victoria’s story. One of the things I’ve always wanted to avoid doing is having everything happen to one character, which often happens in an ongoing series. Either that, or the character doesn’t grow and begins to stagnate.

I hope to avoid both of those what I consider pitfalls in a series by letting Victoria have her “happy ending” and then to move onto another female vampire hunter that I can torture — er, I mean write about.

I know it isn’t fair to ask but I have to — I’m just so desperate to know what the future holds for Victoria, Max, and Sebastian. Would you give us a hint about what happens in The Bleeding Dusk?

Hmmm…what can I tell you without giving anything big away? Well, let’s see. We find out more about Max’s background, and also about Sebastian’s other secret. Victoria takes over as the head of the Venators, and when she gets into a sticky situation, a special garment helps her to escape. Ladies Nilly and Winnie go vampire hunting. And we get to visit Lilith’s lair—twice.

How’s that for a tease?

Thank you so much Colleen for taking the time to answer some questions! I've really enjoyed getting the chance to talk to you again.

Thank you so much for having me! I always enjoy your questions, and enthusiasm about the books.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Debut Fantasy from Carole McDonell

ISBN: 0809557797
Format: Paperback, 248pp
Publisher: Juno Books
Price: $12.95

Tia, over at Fantasy Debut, has been reading this one and it has caught my eye. It sounds like it should be pretty good. Strong characters and an interesting world. You can read Tia's reviews of the first few chapters at her blog. Then you can check out Carol McDonell's blog where she is spotlighting Frank Creed.


Satha, a dark-skinned woman from a poor Theseni clan weds young Loic, the wealthy Doreni son of the king's First Captain. Despite coming from different tribes, they begin to forge a life together. But Satha's compassion is used against her when a treacherous enemy contrives to dishonor her in Loic's absence. Loic must then avenge Satha's honor as well as his own. He sets out on a journey that brings deep despair as well as spiritual discovery. Battling him are the Arkhai, spirits of the land who know his quest will lead him toward the God whom they have usurped. After his departure, Satha is kidnapped, sold into slavery and learns how truly cruel life can be. Both face great hardship, danger, and anguish apart, but with the Creator's aid there remains hope they will be reunited and heal the love the world has torn asunder.

Monday, October 1, 2007

'The Darkangel' by Meredith Ann Pierce

ISBN: 0316067237
Format: Paperback, 256pp
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Price: $7.99

First published in 1982 The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce is the first in the Darkangel trilogy. The series is being reissued by Little, Brown & Company with gorgeous new covers. I have to admit that the cover is what first caught my eye. But I was lucky that it wasn’t just another pretty face, what I found within the pages is a solid young adult fantasy worth reading more than once.

The Darkangel, once a mortal and not quite a vampire, must have 14 brides before he can come into his full power and immortality. He keeps his wives in his cold castle, wraiths without their souls, which he wears in lead vials around his neck. When the Darkangel steals away Eoduin, Aeriel, her slave and friend, vows to avenge her mistress and waits for the Darkangel to return.

But when the Darkangel comes back to claim Aeriel, she finds that he is too beautiful for her to kill. At first she thinks she too will become one of his brides but he scoffs at the idea, claiming that she is too ugly. Instead he has brought her to his castle as a servant; she is to weave the clothes for his brides and when he chooses his 14th and final bride it will be Aeriel that weaves the bridal gown.

Below the castle, in deep caves, lives a little man by the name of Talb. A magician of sorts, he helps Aeriel survive her first few months there, providing her with food and company when the voices of the wraith brides become too much. Aeriel also makes friends with the Darkangel’s gargoyles, bringing them food and coming to love them. She even becomes close to the Darkangel, sharing stories with him and coming to care for him, although she does not realize it at first.

While the Darkangel is cruel and seems heartless, Aeriel still sees some good in him. But when she realizes that with the Darkangel’s final bride he will not only come into his full power but that he will join others of his kind to take over the world, she takes action. With guidance from Talb, Aeriel escapes the Darkangel and goes on a quest to find an object that will help her save his withered soul.

The Darkangel is not the vampire story you might expect. Written years before a revolution was led by authors everywhere towards bodice-ripping novels that featured blood-sucking hunks, Pierce crafted an original fantasy with a vampire at its heart. More adventure and self-discovery than romance, this is a story of Aerial and her growth. Nevertheless the idea of romance is there; the pale beautiful face, the night black wings, the other worldly power, all elements that have followed the vampire into more modern settings.

But leave whatever vampire expectations you have behind you. The Darkangel is solid, finely wrought fantasy with hints of science fiction thrown in. The second book, A Gathering of Gargoyles, was released with its new cover this month with the third and final volume, The Pearl of the Soul of the World, hitting stores in February 2008. If you can’t wait that long, of course there is always local used bookstores and the used section on Amazon. But I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty cover, so I think I’ll just wait it out.