My Bookish Ways

Knight’s Curse (Knight’s Curse #1) by Karen Duvall

Knight’s Curse (Knight’s Curse #1) by Karen Duvall
Publisher: 
LUNA/August 2011
Urban Fantasy
Knight’s Curse Series
3.5/5

A skilled knife fighter since the age of nine, Chalice knows what it’s like to live life on the edge—precariously balanced between the dark and the light. But the time has come to choose. The evil sorcerer who kidnapped her over a decade ago requires her superhuman senses to steal a precious magical artifact…or she must suffer the consequences.

Desperate to break the curse that enslaves her, Chalice agrees. But it is only with the help of Aydin—her noble warrior-protector—that she will risk venturing beyond the veil to discover the origins of her power. Only for him will she dare to fully embrace her awesome talents. For a deadly duel is at hand, and Chalice alone will have to decide between freedom and the love of her life.

REVIEW
Knight’s Curse begins when Chalice is just a young girl, living with Maronite monks in a Lebanese villages. Orphaned, this is the only family Chalice has ever really known, and not only have they raised her, but they’ve also taught her some rather unusual skills. When a man thought to be her father comes to claim her, Chalice knows something is wrong, but is forced to go along with this menacing stranger. She is taken to live with the Vyantara, a group of magic users who use Chalice, and others, to steal cursed and magical objects for their own nefarious means. Chalice has become a skilled thief, but she’s got a secret that tethers her to her kidnapper, Heinrich, and the Vyantara, and she’s desperate to be free.

Knight’s Curse was not what I expected! I expected pretty run of the mill urban fantasy, but the characters and world that Ms. Duvall has created really are rather unique and refreshing. The curse in the title refers to Chalice’s binding to a gargoyle (foisted upon her by Heinrich, to keep her under control). They must maintain close contact or Chalice will actually turn into a gargoyle herself. It’s not a pleasant situation, especially since her particular gargoyle was once a human, who also happened to be a psychopath. Aydin, the handsome sorcerer that is also a member of the Vyantara (but on her side), is also bound to a gargoyle, but theirs is a very different relationship. Knight’s Curse is told from Chalice’s point of view and is very much a tale not only of magic, but of self-discovery. She discovers that she is descended from an ancient order of female Knights (the Hatchet Knights), and may be destined for greater things. First she has to escape her curse and her evil captor. This was such a fun book, and Chalice and Aydin’s love story added a certain sweetness. Loved the magic and otherworldly creatures in this one and can’t wait to explore Chalice and Aydin’s romance and adventures further in the next book, Darkest Knight!

Purchase Knight’s Curse: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Paranormal Valentine’s Day: “Dating the Undead” by Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe!

It’s a Paranormal Valentine’s Day on MBW, and I’m so thrilled to have a guest post by Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe detailing the Top 10 Things You Should NOT Do When Dating an Immortal, which goes right along with Gena and Jill’s brand new release “Dating the Undead: Loving the Immortal Man”. So, check out the list, then be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Happy Valentine’s Day, gang!

Dating an immortal is definitely an adjustment. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a “top ten” list of things NOT to do when dating an immortal:

1. Desperation is not attractive – don’t draw your own blood to lure in your Vampire.

2. Maintain boundaries – especially with Werewolves (as they run in packs), make time for your friends separately. Invading his pack with your posse is not sound protocol for dating success.

3. Keep your hands to yourself – don’t try and make the first move with Dragons. They consider touching – including a handshake – to be a privilege. Wait for permission before leaping into a public display of affection.

4. Be sensitive – Zombies tend to be easier going than other immortal groups, but they’re sensitive when it comes to their flaws. Keep your criticism constructive . . . or avoid it all together.

5. Guard your heart – Don’t expect commitment from a Demon. It’s not their style. If you’re looking for undead monogamy, try your luck with Vampires or Angels.

6. Slow and steady wins the race – When dating an Angel, show your love for his virtues. Make him feel comfortable and then ease him into the sensual side of your relationship.

7. Pick your battles – Dragons are known for having quite the temper. To avoid a bad burn, try providing balance to your mate, instead of fuel to the fire.

8. Avoid the Age Game – The undead may be immortal, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to ageism. Avoid hurtful slang like “hatchling” and “vampling” when referring to your immortal.

9. Position of Power – If you’re a power-player interested in dating an angel, let them take control. It’s a well-known fact that Angels can’t resist a damsel in distress.

10. Fashion Forward – Turtlenecks are a bit dated, and if you want to date a Vampire, it’s certainly not the way to go. Plan an outfit that shows a little skin – like something off the shoulder – he won’t be able to resist.

About Gena:
Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Romance, and Young Adult novels from a multitude of publishers. She has appeared in Cosmo and Seventeen magazines, on MTV, and has also been featured on many regional and national news programs. Visit Gena at her website!

About Jill:
Jill Monroe is an award winning author of 10 novels. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and children. When not writing, Jill spends her days thinking of ways to avoid cleaning, and finding the recipe that will please everyone in the family. Visit Jill at her website!

About Dating the Undead:
They’re Drop-Dead Handsome—and We’re Not Kidding!
Welcome to the first and only magazine devoted to loving the immortal man in all of his furry, feathery, fiery glory. As always, this month’s issue is a forbidden-fruit salad of features, fiction, fashion, and more, including:

• Blood Stains on His Collar, Doritos in His Bed: Is Your Immortal Just a Little Bit…Immoral?
• A Kiss is Not Just a Kiss: Immortals We Crave Divulge Their Lip-smacking Turn-ons
• Off the Set with the Real Vampires of Vegas: Your Favorite AfterLifetime TV Vamps Let Their Hair Down
• Killer Cocktails to Slay Your Dragon, Slake Your Vampire, or Singe Your Angel

Plus your favorite columns and departments:
• Ask Gabrielle: Angelic Etiquette for Modern Gals and Ghouls
• A View from a Guy: Zombie Jack’s Turn
• Undead and Well-Read: What’s Hot Between the Covers This Month
• Angel in the Kitchen: Heavenly Dishes That Don’t Take an Eternity to Prepare
There’s even a page-turning, strange-but-true paranormal romance that’ll keep you up all day!

Don’t get caught UNDEAD without it!

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Dating the Undead by Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 2/21/12
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Book kindly provided by Harlequin.

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Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs (Jane Jameson #1) by Molly Harper

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs (Jane Jameson #1) by Molly Harper
Publisher: 
Pocket/March 2009
Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
4/5

Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children’s librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that’s sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she’s mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.

REVIEW
Jane Jameson has just been fired from her job as a children’s librarian and handed a gift card to Shenanigan’s (beer and flair!) for her severance. If that isn’t insulting enough, her car breaks down after her Shenanigan’s bender (don’t worry, she sobered up before driving), and while walking home, she trips and falls in a ditch, is mistaken for a deer, and shot by a drunk hunter (you’ve got to love that). Luckily, the tall, dark, and handsome stranger that talked her up in the bar decides to follow her home. Turns out this hottie is a vampire, and he turns Jane in order to save her life. So now, losing her job isn’t her biggest problem. Now Jane is a vamp, a fact that she’s eventually going to have to explain to her nosy family, and in a small town like Half Moon Hollow, her secret is bound to come out sooner or later. Then there’s that vamp that attacks her and ends up dead. The Council is blaming Jane, and if she doesn’t find out who the culprit is, she may be dead for good.

I LOVED this book, just flat out loved it. Jane reminds me a bit of Stephanie Plum with fangs, and her insecurity and little quirks make her one of the most lovable vamps you’ll come across in paranormal romance/UF today. She shares a rambling, very old farmhouse with her Aunt Lettie (who’s dead, by the way), has a best friend who’s a guy (and who the author compared to Steve Zahn, which I loved), a car she calls Big Bertha (held together by duct tape and a prayer),and is quite inexperienced in the sexy times department. Not to worry, though! That’s where her sire, Gabriel Nightengale, comes in. He’s old fashioned, kinda stuffy in a charming way, and totally smitten with Jane. He’s charmed by her sarcastic mouth and innocence, and will do anything to protect her. While the romance is certainly a major theme here, the author builds tension between the two like nothing else, and trust me, you’ll be rooting for them to “get it on already!!”. Well, at least, I was. They keep getting interrupted by the unfortunate goings on in Jane’s newly undead life. The harassment is escalating, she desperately needs a job, her best friend is acting strange, and dealing with her family is a constant worry. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from The Guide for the Newly Undead, and made me laugh (and snort) more than once. In fact, the whole book made me laugh, and I zipped through it in no time. I can’t wait to dive into the next Jane adventure, and suspect I’ll be reading the next 3 right after another. If you love quirky characters, witty writing, and a fun, supernatural filled world you can sink your teeth into, this series is for you!

Purchase Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Giveaway Winners: Firelight by Kristen Callihan, and more!

I’ve got winners for my giveaway of Firelight by Kristen Callihan, plus some alternate winners! Please make sure you add me to your contacts in your email, because I’d hate for you to miss out if you’re a winner (I had to pick alternates for Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck and Sadie Walker is Stranded because I didn’t hear from ANY of my winners.) Thanks so much to everyone that entered and congrats!

Firelight by Kristen Callihan (3 copies)

Congrats to Pamela Lines Moran Blome, ML, and Alaina Armbruster!

Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck

Congrats to Ashley Anne Applebee!

Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux (2 copies)

Congrats to Randi M. and Bonnie!

*All winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified via email, and have 48 hours to respond before I pick an alternate winner. Thanks again to everyone that entered!

Kindle Fire Giveaway with Michael Dempsey,author of Necropolis!

I’m a huge fan of Michael Dempsey’s Necropolis (my review), so when he kindly asked if I’d post about his huge new Kindle giveaway, of course I said yes! Read up on the book (and of course, snag a copy if you want), check out the awesome trailer, and fill out the form at the bottom of the post to enter! The same form is available on Michael’s website, so no need to fill it out twice! Good luck!

BIG KINDLE GIVEAWAY!

Author Michael Dempsey is so excited about the excellent critical and reader responses to his sci fi crime thriller, NECROPOLIS (published by Night Shade Books), he’s decided to celebrate by giving away some pretty awesome gifts. So between now and March 18, 2012, he’s running a promotion where you can enter to win Kindles, Amazon gift cards, and even a Kindle Fire! (No purchase is necessary.)
Read my interview with Michael!

PRIZES:

1ST PRIZE (1): AMAZON KINDLE FIRE
With Amazon’s amazing full-color Kindle Fire e-reader, surf the web, read books, watch movies, music, games, apps and more!

2ND PRIZE (2): AMAZON KINDLE
Two second prize winners will receive Amazon’s original Kindle, the world’s best-selling e-reader!

3RD PRIZE (4): $40 AMAZON GIFT CARDS
Four third-prized winners will receive $40 Amazon gift cards: buy books, movies, clothing–anything you want!

Every entry is equally eligible for all prizes and NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO WIN. But you can INCREASE YOUR ODDS of winning by increasing your number of entries. So use the entry counters below to rack up lots of entries. Enter as often as you like. (BUT ABSOLUTELY NO SPAMMING–spammers will be disqualified). But hurry! The Necropolis Kindle Fire Giveaway ends at midnight EST March 18, 2012! For questions, please contact necropolisthenovel@gmail.com.

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Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay

Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay
Publisher: 
Pocket/May 2011
Urban Fantasy
4.5/5

Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dre-ams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death. Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t. Including helping law enforcement— and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective—collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.

But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a sixyear- old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case. Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects. Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run—from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her. . . .

REVIEW
Looking for an urban fantasy that’s a little bit different? Look no further, because Dead on the Delta is your book. Annabelle Lee is called to collect evidence from the body of a 6 year old that was found outside of the silver fence that is supposed to protect Davidsonville from the flesh eating, venom spewing fairies that dwell inside. Annabelle works for Fairy Control and Containment, and she’s immune to their nasty venom. In Dead on the Delta, fairies are beautiful to look at, but they love the taste of human blood. They don’t love the taste of Annabelle’s blood (it’ll kill ‘em), though, and that’s why she gets paid the big bucks by the FCC. Dealing with the body of a 6 year old is not something she’s equipped to handle, and she’ll do anything to help find the killer, even if it means working with two FBI agents that have come to assist, one of which is her ex-boyfriend Hitch, who she still has feelings for. She’s been with hot cop Cane Cooper for a year and a half now, and he’s looking for a commitment that goes farther than friends with benefits, but Annabelle’s not sure that she’s ready for that. Good thing, then, that Hitch’s disapproval of her (she dropped out of med school and he feels like she’s wasting her life) is palpable, and frankly, he acts like a bit of a douche, so it makes it a bit easier for Annabelle to tuck those old feelings away. This is so not what Annabelle needs. She’s been happy in her slacker lifestyle, taking work for granted, drinking just a few too many beers to get through the day, so the discovery of a dead body, much less a child, and the possibility of a Breeze operation in their midst has her mind reeling. Oh yes, Breeze is a drug made from fairy poop and bleach. Yep, fairy poop. It seems to have much of the same effects that you’d see with PCP users, so yeah, bad, bad stuff.

Dead on the Delta is told in Annabelle’s wry, sarcastic voice, and in spite of her rather self-destructive tendencies, I sort of fell in love with her. There’s actually quite a lot to love, such as her big heart and utter determination to do the right thing, sometimes at her own peril. She gets knocked around quite a lot, physically and emotionally, and as the book progresses, you discover that there may be more to her, magically, than just her fairy venom immunity, and what she eventually discovers is just so darn cool, and rather unique, but I don’t want to give it away, since it’s a big part of what makes this book so much fun. I loved the combination of urban fantasy with a crackling good mystery, and the author snuck in some twists that I didn’t see coming! Seriously, they’re pretty good ones, and once I was halfway through, I couldn’t put it down. I just HAD to find out what happened next. Loved Annabelle, loved Ms. Jay’s cast of odd characters, and loved the mystery of Dead on the Delta! Fast paced, taut writing and unique world building make this a series start that really stands out from the crowd. Can’t wait for the next book, Blood on the Bayou!

Purchase Dead on the Delta: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Early Review: The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
Publisher: 
Orbit/Feb. 21st, 2012
Fantasy/Horror
5/5
Thanks to Orbit for providing a review copy

George Carole ran away from home to join the Vaudeville circuit. Sixteen years old, uncommonly gifted at the piano, he falls in with a strange troupe — even for Vaudeville.

Under the watchful eye of the enigmatic figure of Silenus, George comes to realize that the members of the troupe are more than they appear to be. And their travels have a purpose that runs deeper than entertainment.

George must uncover the mysteries of Silenus’s Company before it is too late. He is already entangled in their web of secrets and if he doesn’t learn where they are taking him, he may never find his way out.

REVIEW
At 16, George Carole was raised by his grandmother, has never known his mother or father, and has been traveling with a vaudeville troupe, playing piano rather wonderfully. He has a good idea of who his father might be, and has been trying to catch up with the Silenus troupe, if only to catch a glimpse of the man that could possibly be his dad. He finally manages to catch up with them and catch a performance. He’s enchanted, especially with the beautiful acrobat Colette, and fascinated with Silenus. After leaving the performance, he encounters the grey men (seriously creepy), who also seem to be after the Silenus troupe, but for much different reasons than George. It’s when George attempts to warn the troupe of the grey men’s presence that the real adventure, and terror, begins.

See, George has a little something special inside of him, and it’s part of what makes him so valuable to Silenus and his troupe, because the troupe is much, much more than just a vaudeville act, as George will soon discover. The Troupe is, at its heart, George’s coming of age story, but it’s also a far-reaching magical epic. Set in a time when vaudeville and minstrel shows were popular, and horse and carriages still lingered, The Troupe is a book that you want to read without distraction, because there are quite a few big ideas in play. Don’t let that scare you. The author manages to weave horror elements (wolves in human clothing and the grey men), with not so traditional fantasy elements (some rather terrifying fairies), and even southern gothic into a rich tapestry that you’ll want to savor, bit by bit. There is a song that was lost when man and earth was created (The First Song), and Silenus’ troupe has been gathering bits of it back together, in hopes of saving our world. Each town they stop in becomes just a little bit better when the troupe sings this haunting song. If the song is entirely forgotten, the rips that have already appeared in the fabric of our reality will get bigger, and very, very bad things will begin to come through. George has some of this song inside him, and throughout the book, it becomes clearer and clearer just how important George is to our world.

George will frustrate you, and you’ll fall in love with him at the same time. He’s just a kid, who sometimes fancies himself much worldlier than he really is, and is painfully naive. For someone so young to shoulder such a huge burden is enormous, and much of the book is about George learning just how to do that, as well as getting to know the father he never knew. Silenus is a force of nature and his command of his troupe and relationships with its members is also a very big part of this novel. Many elements of the Silenus troupe are strange and terrifying, such as Kingsley the puppeteer and his rather creepy, otherworldly puppets, and some are beautiful, such as the dancer Colette and even Franny, who lifts objects that no one her size should be able to lift. Silenus’ silent and gentle companion Stanley (who communicates via chalkboard) is a joy, and the interplay between the troupe members is subtle, intricate, and sometimes heartbreaking, as is Silenus’ rough, fierce love for his troupe. As George learns more and more about his place in this frightening new world, and also of the delicate balance that the troupe helps maintain, he also realizes what’s at stake, and losing the song may mean losing everything he cherishes. The author has a gift for atmosphere, mystery, and imagery, and manages some jaw dropping twists that I didn’t see coming. The Troupe was as much of an emotional journey as it was a fantasy for me, and I cherished every bit. Haunting, terrifying, and achingly beautiful, The Troupe is a book to be savored, and it will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. Very highly recommended.

Pre-order The Troupe: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Giveaway Winners: Blood and Bullets and Sadie Walker is Stranded

I have a few giveaway winners for Blood and Bullets and Sadie Walker is Stranded! Thanks so much to everyone that entered! Note: Please check your spam for my email! I have had lots of winners not get back to me lately, and I’d hate for you to miss out:)

Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck

Congrats to Daren Davey!

Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux (2 copies)

Congrats to Sara Kovach and Brenda Birch Gallaher!

*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified via email, and have 48 hours to respond. Thanks again to everyone that entered and to Kensington and St. Martins Press for the giveaway books!

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Jamieson Ridenhour, author of Barking Mad

I’m thrilled to have Jamie Ridenhour here today as part of his blog tour for Barking Mad (courtesy of Kismet Tours)! He was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and there’s also a pretty awesome giveaway, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Jamie to the blog!

Jamie, have you always wanted to be a writer? Can you tell us a little bit about your journey?
Hi Kristin! Thanks for having me. I have wanted to be a writer since I was ten years old and read The Hobbit for the first time. That was in 1979, and I remember putting “writer” down for all those elementary school questions about what you wanted to be when you grew up. I wrote stories throughout my pre-teen and early teenage years. I even spent most of my twelfth year adapting The Fellowship of the Ring into a screenplay. It is not the one that Peter Jackson used for his film.

At thirteen I started playing guitar, and then I spent a while wanting to be a rock star. But underneath that I was still reading, and still writing. Writing songs, but still writing. I returned to fiction and poetry while in grad school working on my master’s in English. That was in 1998, and I’ve been writing pretty consistently ever since.

Your supernatural murder mystery, Barking Mad, features a classic English setting and werewolves! Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Why, how kind of you to ask! Barking Mad is an homage to P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s. I have a great affection for all three, and I like the idea of everything I love happening at the same time. My protagonist, Reggie Spiffington, is a classic Wodehousian bumbler, who thinks he’s heading for a weekend in the country to play matchmaker for his old college chum Moony. He also hopes to eat heavily from the table of the master chef who works at Huffsworthy Hall. Things go awry, as they are wont to do.

And there are werewolves.

What made you decide to write a mystery, as opposed to another genre?
Well, again, Agatha Christie was one of the writers to whom I was paying tribute, so there’s that. But Dame Agatha aside, I like murder-mysteries—I like them in and of themselves, and I like the way the mystery plot demands a certain pacing of character and narrative. It gives a shape to the story, gives the characters something to do. And of course, the murder-mystery has tension and narrative drive built right in.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Dickens is a big one, though he may not seem obvious in this book. His humor, his plotting, the grand sweep of what he tried to do. His shadow looms large. P.G. Wodehouse’s humor, obviously. All the fantasy and horror I read growing up, especially Peter Straub. I love the elegance of Kazuo Ishiguro’s prose. I love straight-facedness of H.P. Lovecraft, that deadly serious, and ultimately glorious, overwriting that I know must lurk in my pen. And to be honest, I’d probably list Joe Strummer and Tom Waits as well. Really, everything goes in the hopper—good, bad, or indifferent.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
What a great question! I don’t even know where to begin. I wish I could experience Dickens for the first time again—Bleak House, which was the book which made me love him. I reread Forster every year, but not with the fervor of the convert like I did initially. But if I only had one choice, it would probably be The Lord of the Rings. I’m going to focus on the fact that Tolkien originally wrtoe TLOTR as a single book, so I’m not cheating by choosing a trilogy. The feeling I got reading those books at eleven, the sense of wonder and expansiveness, was breathtaking. And formative in a way I probably won’t ever be able to adequately articulate. I’ve read better books since then, and I’ve found writers who mena much more to me than Tolkien, but I don’t think I can ever recapture that experience, that feeling that there is a whole other…thing out there that exists and is happening and I’ve only just discovered it. That feeling that anything is possible.

What’s one of your favorite characters from a novel?
Jenny Wren from Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend is one of my favorite characters. A precocious child who makes clothes for children’s dolls for a living. She’s on crutches—because Dickens will have your sympathy, dammit—and she’s responsible for the care of her good-for-nothing alcoholic father. She’s hard as nails, and funny, and sentimental, and everything that Dickens does well, I think. I adore her.

I’ve got four or five dozen other favorite characters as well. But we’ll stick with Jenny for now.

When you’re not busy writing and playing lead guitar for your band Blind Mice, how do you like to spend your free time?
I love to cook, especially Indian and Middle Eastern food. I’ve got two incredible kids, and I love playing games with them. We’re a big game family—Catan, Carcasonne, Munchkin. I just got Zombie Flux for Christmas, and we’ve been having a blast with that.

My wife and I love watching really good TV series, usually after they’ve already gone off the air, for some reason. We’ve finally caught up to Dr. Who and are impatiently waiting for the next series.

And I read. And read and read and read.

Since you’re a musician, I have to ask… What are a few of your favorite bands?
You’re, like, the perfect interviewer! Music is the only more important to me than books. I love a really wide range—classical, jazz, punk, rock, Celtic. Favorite artists are probably Dexter Gordon, Tom Waits and Joe Strummer, both with the Clash and solo. But man, it’s hard to narrow it. Lately I’ve been digging Elbow, Laura Marling, and the newest Lindsey Buckingham album.

There is always music playing when I write. Often it’s 50s cool jazz, which I have a deep love for. Gerry Mulligan, Dexter Gordon, Miles’ first quintet, stuff like that.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
I’ve got a short story in the February issue of Weird Tales that I’m very excited about. It’s a Lovecraft-meets-Robert Johnson story about the blues, the devil, love, desire, and the price we pay for fame. About as different from Barking Mad as it could be. And my new film The House of the Yaga is out. You can see the whole thing on my website, as well as keep up to date on what I’m up to.

And I’m about halfway done with a new novel, a YA set in Victorian London. I’m very excited about that, but don’t have much to tell you yet.
Keep up with Jamie: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Be sure to hit all the tour dates!
Monday, February 6th – Reels Well Blog
Tuesday, February 7th – A Casual’s Reader Blog
Wednesday, February 8th – Evie Bookish
Thursday, February 9th – My Bookish Way’s
Friday, February 10th – Bewitched Bookworms

Monday, February 13th – Sitting Here and Read
Tuesday, February 14th – Books and Things
Wednesday, February 15th - Books and Other Creative Adventures
Thursday, February 16th – Sweeping Me
Friday, February 17th - Reviews by Molly

Monday, February 20th – Unabridged Andra
Tuesday, February 21st – Buried in Books
Wednesday, February 22nd – Hooked on Books
Thursday, February 23rd -Glorious Books
Friday, February 24th – A Cupcake and A Latte

Jamie and Kismet are offering up a great prize package as well: 1 signed copy of Barking Mad, 4 unique signed character cards, and a DVD, so be sure to hit the widget below to enter (the widget is the same on all tour stops, so no need to fill out twice.) Please see full contest rules HERE

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Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Julianna Baggott
Publisher:
Hachette/Feb. 8th, 2012
Dystopian/Fantasy
5/5
Thanks to Hachette and Netgalley for providing a review copy

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

REVIEW
Just when I thought dystopian might be getting a bit stale, I picked up Pure. Talk about a breath of fresh air! Well, the air in Pure is not all that fresh. In fact, outside of The Dome, it’s filled with ash and dust, the result of The Detonations a number of years earlier. There are a couple of theories (that correlate directly to inside/outside The Dome) as to how these detonations came about. Did someone else strike first? Did we? Or was it something far more sinister? Similar in tone to The Hunger Games (without the games, but with plenty of hunger), Pure presents a twisted, desolate landscape filled with creatures that defy the imagination. With this type of narrative, you expect the usual tropes; rogues out for blood, ragged children, broken families huddled together among the post-apocalyptic landscape, and dissidents with rebellion in mind. You get all of this with Pure, but the author has thrown a few extra things in the mix, which really made it stand out for me.

When The Detonations hit, the population got plenty of radiation, but with a little something…extra, thrown in. People were fused with whatever happened to be close during the meltdown, and nanobots kept them from dying of their wounds. So out of the ash came folks with parts of their cars, glass, metal, you name it, eternally entwined with them. People even fused with other people. Yep, you read that right. That’s not all. There are mutated creatures that rule the night (and sometimes the day), that will drag you down into the dust and devour you. Not a happy place. Pressia Belze is one of the luckier ones. She only has a doll head fused to her hand, and her grandfather has a fan blade in his neck that spins when he breathes. Things for Pressia and her grandfather are in sharp contrast to the sterile interior of The Dome, with its tightly controlled environment, designed for maximum containment, and maximum security. Partridge Willux is a Pure: unmarked, unscarred, protected. Yet, he’s been feeling that things are “off” for a while, that his father, one of those in charge of things inside the Dome, is up to no good and may have been lying to them all along. In this world, those would be considered “dangerous thoughts.” The denizens of the Dome, of course, have been spoon fed a certain rhetoric about those outside, and the “wretches” outside certainly have their own thoughts about the inhabitants of the Dome. Partridge wants to find his mother, who, in spite of what his father tells him, he suspects may be alive, and when he finally makes his escape from the Dome, he meets up with Pressia. Their futures are inexorably entwined, and during the search for Partridge’s mother, they will discover secrets that will cast light on their pasts, and have the power to change their futures. Unlikely alliances are made and loyalties are forged in their journey, and while Pure is certainly a postapocalyptic fantasy, it’s also very much about love, family, and the bonds that allow us to have hope beyond the point we think hope is possible. Lyrical, immediate, highly imaginative, and sometimes scathingly brutal, Pure is impossible to put down, and you won’t want to miss it!

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