My Bookish Ways

Release Day Review: Firelight (Darkest London) by Kristen Callihan

Firelight (Darkest London) by Kristen Callihan
Grand Central/Feb. 2012
Paranormal Romance/Historical
Kind thanks to Grand Central Publishing for providing a review copy

London, 1881
Once the flames are ignited . . .
Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family’s fortune decimated and forced her to wed London’s most nefarious nobleman.
They will burn for eternity . . .
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it’s selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can’t help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn’t felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

When I saw the cover of Firelight, I thought “Ohhh, that’s one I’m going to read.” It’s gorgeous, seriously. Granted, the word “romance” is on the spine, and I’m not a huge reader of romance, but, especially in the spirit of the new year, and trying new things in my reading, I was certainly game to give it a try. I do love historical novels, and Firelight also has paranormal elements, so that was a definite plus for me. I need not have had reservations, though, because Firelight had me hooked from the start. The novel opens when Miranda Ellis is only 19 and is cornered by thugs in a dark alley near her father’s house. Luckily, Lord Benjamin Archer comes to her rescue, although you’ll see later that Miranda is more than capable of taking care of herself. Lord Archer is there to kill Miranda’s father, yet after meeting this tough, beautiful girl, he decides to spare his life. Fast forward 3 years, and Miranda’s father, after marrying off her two older sisters, promises Miranda to Lord Archer. There’s no love lost between Miranda and her father, and even though Miranda is terrified, she’s determined to do her duty and marry the fearsome Lord Archer.

When Miranda marries Archer, that’s when the real fun of Firelight starts. Archer wears a mask on his face, supposedly to cover a hideous deformity. Miranda can’t say too much about that, though, since she’s got quite a secret of her own that she’s hiding. See, Miranda can set things on fire with a thought, so yeah, not a small secret by any means. Archer does not feel himself worthy of the beautiful Miranda, and consistently pulls away from her, even as she senses the kind soul behind the disguise. Hmmmm, sensing some parallels here? We’ve got a bit of Phantom of the Opera, and a bit of Beauty and the Beast as well (my absolute fave), but don’t get me wrong, Firelight is a story all its own. The few similarities just added to the charm of this book for me. So, there’s this delicious push and pull going on between Archer and Miranda, but when men start dying in gruesome ways, and Archer is suspected, Miranda vows to get to the bottom of the mystery, if it means saving the man she’s falling in love with. Throw in a rich London setting circa 1880, an ancient curse, a mysterious woman in disguise, and of course, plenty of romance and adventure, and you‘ve got a historical romance/fantasy that will keep you turning the pages. You can bet I’ll be looking forward to Moonglow this summer!

Purchase Firelight: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Add to Goodreads

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Karina Cooper, author of All Things Wicked

I’m so thrilled to have Karina Cooper on the blog today as part of her virtual tour for All Things Wicked, the brand new book in the Dark Mission series (out today!) Karina was kind enough to talk about her awesome worldbuilding, and there’s also a $25 Amazon Giftcard that will go to one random reader. All you have to do is comment! Don’t forget to hit all the tour stops, since the more you comment, the better your chances are of winning! Thanks to Goddessfish for organizing the tour, and please welcome Karina to the blog!

Ideas that Shape a World
-Karina Cooper
Firstly, let me just say that I love and adore My Bookish Ways. I mean, come on. You’re here, so you know of what I speak. Anything that has to do with bookish ways is pretty rad, and the fabulous Kristin has made an art out of it. Thanks for having me!

So, shameless flattery now out of the way, let’s talk about me!

Every world starts with an idea. (Duh, I hear you say, get to the good stuff. Patience, Padawan. Keep your thoughts in the here and now.)

The ideas can come from anywhere. Absolutely anything. Whenever someone asks me, “Where do you get your ideas?”, I can’t help but laugh and say, “Everywhere.” Sorry, I don’t mean to sound snide when I start laughing. It’s not you, it’s me.

You see, my brain is one of those incredibly annoying, yoga- and inner-peace-defying types. It talks. And it talks. And it spins and it whirls and it talks until I’m pretty sure that if I ever experience a moment of Zen silence, I’ll panic and think myself dead. (Unless, of course, one’s inner self continues on after death, in which case I’ll probably haunt someone just for kicks.) Even when I work–or, say, write blog posts–I’m thinking of fifteen different things at the same time.

This might explain a lot of my communication techniques.

This also means that anything, from a sandwich I taste in a local shop to the show I watch on the Discovery Channel, from the people I meet, people I don’t meet, and people I catch glimpses of on the bus, can spark an idea. And then that idea, a tiny kernel of a thing, just sits there.

And nags.

Sometimes it nags so loudly, or for so long, that it blooms. Sometimes, like with my Dark Mission series, it’ll spring fully formed my brow–without the monster headache. As I’ve mentioned before, I thought about New Seattle while watching a Discovery program about supervolcanoes.

I thought developing a world where much of it has been blasted away by Mother Nature to be so intriguing that I mulled on it for a while. I could have gone a handful of ways–from truly post-apocalyptic, natural disaster fallout to underground cities and more–but I chose a world that hasn’t quite been obliterated, yet whose focus has changed.

The more I chewed on this idea–all in the space of three shows, note–the more it refined. What would humanity do when faced with a century-defining threat? Where would it go, who would it turn to?

And since I couldn’t tell the tale of an entire world in one fell swoop, I focused on one city. The city who already set the precedent for some serious territory-staking.

New Seattle
Even in real life, Seattle is built on the remains of itself. If you’ve never been to the underground tours, you should make it a point to go when you’re in town. It’s strange and haunting and surreal, and I wanted to borrow that feeling for my new city.

Whether it’s Seattle or humanity as a whole, we’re not too keen on just packing up and taking off when things don’t work. For the residents of Seattle, it’s home. And one doesn’t just leave one’s home when things get tough. Or so the residents of my Seattle thought, especially when a powerful voice rose up from the ashes to encourage solidarity.

So they rebuilt their beloved city–bigger, stronger, shinier! A real beacon of hope. And they put it right over the ruins of the old. Smart? Maybe not. But do remember that Seattle was originally built on filled-in tidelands. When the Great Seattle Fire destroyed 31 blocks, the city council ordered the streets regraded a couple stories high. Historically speaking, the precedent for stacking one city on top of the other was set in 1889.

All the Holy Order had to do was follow suit. And then, very cleverly, divide the populace. The poor, the powerless? We don’t need them. They’re frightened sheep, aren’t they? Milling around within the borders of safety that the powerful have defined. The rich? The politically savvy, the elite, they should be at the top of the city, the crème de la crème. Trapped where the Church can keep an eye on them. Fed until they’re bloated and passive and content.

Like good puppets.

The rest, as they say, is history.

All Things Wicked: Secrets & Revelations
For fifty years, the residents of New Seattle have believed one solid fact: only Providence (chance, luck, fate, call it what you will) saved them from total annihilation. With the help of the Holy Order of St. Dominic, New Seattle rose from the ashes of a cataclysm so profound that it still echoes fifty years later.

Fear is a mighty motivator. And it covers oh, so many sins.

Caleb Leigh has been on the run for a year–from the Coven he destroyed, the sister he deceived, and the demons that haunt his every move. Juliet Carpenter has never forgotten the man who touched her heart, and then betrayed her family. Bent on vengeance, her plans take a turn for the surreal as the Holy Order joins the feud.

New Seattle is filled with secrets. The Church will do anything to keep them buried; lie, conspire… murder.

Out today, January 31st, All Things Wicked will answer questions those in power would prefer stay buried. At all costs.

Keep up with Karina: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Tea Time Iniquity

Purchase All Things Wicked: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Don’t forget to visit all the tour stops on the tour and leave a comment!
Read my review of All Things Wicked

About Karina:
San Francisco provided me with a home only until the wanderlust struck. I was raised all over the U.S. like some kind of tiny blonde gypsy, and marinating in the melting pot of so many cultures may be the source of this wild imagination. No matter where I was or what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up—actress to artist, web designer, fashionista or author—I was always creative.

As far as careers go, daydreaming for a living kicks so much ass

About All Things Wicked
Juliet Carpenter was always protected from the darker side of the witching world. But the massacre below Seattle, the one that claimed her sister’s life, opened her eyes to the true nature of those around her–especially Caleb Leigh. Juliet can’t believe that she slept with the man who killed her sister and now has just one thing on her mind: revenge. But old habits die hard and when it becomes clear that she can’t trust her Coven either, she’s left on the run with a man she hates more than anything.

Caleb isn’t proud of the things he’s done to survive, but nothing hurts him more than the pain he caused Juliet. Unable to reveal the truth about her sister’s death, and with both the Coven and the Mission hard on their heels, he must get Juliet to trust him long enough to save their lives. Because it’s not just the two of them who are in danger: if Juliet won’t let go of her rage enough to tap into her powers, everything they love–each other, their families, this whole miserable world–will be lost.

Release Day Review: All Things Wicked (Dark Mission #3) by Karina Cooper

All Things Wicked (Dark Mission #3) by Karina Cooper
Avon/Jan. 2011
Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Dark Mission Series
Kind thanks to Avon for providing a review copy

CJuliet Carpenter thought of the coven as family, but when she falls for a man who betrays them all, she’s left alone and desperately searching for a reason why. Caleb Leigh has spent the past year in hiding, unable to escape his demons. When Juliet finds him again, her need for vengeance clashes with the hunger still burning between them.

It’s a fight born from the embers of a half-forgotten attraction and the wounds of a past too raw to ignore. With enemies circling and secrets threatening to consume them, Caleb has no choice but to fulfill a promise made long ago—protect her, save her. Even if it costs him his blood, his body . . . and what’s left of his mind.

REVIEW (No spoilers, but if you haven’t started the series, you can read my review for Blood of the Wicked here)
If you’re not new to the Dark Mission series, you may remember that Caleb Leigh was the bad guy in the first book, Blood of the Wicked. We’re talkin’ brutal, ritualistic murder, betrayal, all kinds of icky. So, when I saw that he was the hero of the newest book, I was skeptical. Not to worry, though, Karina Cooper won’t let you down. All Things Wicked opens with Juliet Carpenter, sister of a woman that Caleb supposedly killed, getting the drop on Caleb and attempting a little murder herself. Juliet’s heart isn’t quite in it though, and Caleb manages to get the upper hand and save his own skin. Unfortunately, Juliet calls down the forces of the Coven of the Unbinding and realizes that she may have bit off way more than she can chew. Caleb and Juliet find themselves on the run; not only for their lives, but from a dark secret that threatens them both.

Karina Cooper has a gift for gritty, dark worldbuilding; something she’s proven time and again during the course of the Dark Mission series, and All Things Wicked is no exception. When Caleb and Juliet go on the run in the New Seattle underground, the descriptives are so good you may find yourself longing for sunshine before they emerge. Another hallmark of this series is the brutal passion between the couples. Juliet is a little different from previous heroines, in that she’s a little bit softer, a little less tough, but that’s just a few of the reasons why Caleb is so drawn to her, and their longing and attraction is sexy and intense, but somehow, Juliet manages to maintain her innate sweetness, which one would think would be near impossible to do in their dark world. We finally find out the why of Caleb’s previous actions, and even though the why is easy to forgive, they’re still shocking in their brutality, but that’s what gives Caleb his edge, and makes him such a flawed, yet sympathetic, hero. There’s a reappearance of Silas and Jessie from Blood of the Wicked, as well as Naomi West from Lure of the Wicked (and others), and a plot involving a rather nasty conspiracy involving DNA manipulation rounds out this top shelf paranormal romance. The author seamlessly weaves multiple plotlines together, while managing to bring the heat between Juliet and Caleb, and maintaining the uber dark, urban atmosphere with taut prose and a breakneck pace. All Things Wicked is not to be missed by paranormal romance and urban fantasy fans alike!

Blood of the Wicked Review
Lure of the Wicked Review

Purchase All Things Wicked: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Add to Goodreads

New Releases: Week of Jan. 31st, 2011

There’s a ton of new releases this week, so check ‘em out (most release Jan. 31st)

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror:
Sadie Walker Is Stranded: A Zombie Novel by Madeleine Roux | REVIEW
All Things Wicked: A Dark Mission Novel by Karina Cooper | REVIEW
Brightwater Blood by Shona Husk
Driving Mr. Dead by Molly Harper
His Dark Bond by Anne Marsh
Darkest Highlander: A Dark Sword Novel by Donna Grant
Burned: A Void City Novel by J.F. Lewis
The Great Game: The Bookman Histories, Book 3 by Lavie Tidhar
Wrong Side of Dead Kelly Meding
A Devil Named Desire (Devil’s Bargain, Book 2) by Terri Garey
Chaotic: A Novella by Kelley Armstrong
A Little Night Magic by Lucy March
From the Deep of the Dark (Jackelian 6) by Stephen Hunt
The Faceless by Simon Bestwick
Heir of Novron (Riyria Revelations) by Michael J. Sullivan
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
Giant Thief by David Tallerman
Greatshadow: The Dragon Apocalypse by James Maxey
Undone Deeds (Connor Grey) Mark Del Franco
Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole
Firelight (Darkest London) by Kristen Callihan (2/1)

Boca Daze by Steven M. Forman
A Parliament of Spies: A Mystery by Cassandra Clark
A Catered St. Patrick’s Day (Mystery With Recipes) by Isis Crawford
File M for Murder (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) by Miranda James
The Golden Scales: A Makana Mystery by Parker Bilal
Budapest Noir: A Novel by Vilmos Kondor
Bloodland: A Novel by Alan Glynn
The Dark Rose: A Novel by Erin Kelly (2/2) | REVIEW

Young Adult:
Midnight in Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale
Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire Trilogy) by Courtney Allison Moulton
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
The Survivors by Will Weaver
Destiny and Deception: A 13 to Life Novel by Shannon Delaney
Lenobia’s Vow: A House of Night Novella by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Interview (& Giveaway): Madeleine Roux, author of Sadie Walker is Stranded

I’m am over the moon to have Madeleine Roux on the blog today! Madeleine is the author of Allison Hewitt is Trapped, and the upcoming Sadie Walker is Stranded (2 of my fave zombie books, by the way), and was kind enough to take the time and answer a few of my questions. Also, St. Martins Press has kindly offered 2 copies of Sadie Walker is Stranded to 2 lucky winners, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Madeleine to the blog!

Madeleine, Allison Hewitt is Trapped started out as a blog publication and was wildly popular. Did you ever imagine it would be picked up by a major publisher? How did you celebrate when you got the news? Did you happy dance, ‘cause I might have happy danced…?
I think everyone starts a new project hoping it will be a success. Instinct told me I had something special with Allison Hewitt, but I never imagined it would actually get published. And yes, I celebrated – it was not particularly dignified. I remember an embarrassing amount of flailing and dancing, calling all of my family, and the words “We need champagne. Immediately.”

I loved Allison Hewitt and your newest novel, Sadie Walker is Stranded, is just as good! What made you decide to write zombie novels?
I’ve always been a fan of the genre, but the initial inspiration came from my job at the time. I was, like Allison, working at a bookstore. It could get slow from time to time, and if I didn’t have anything to do I’d day dream about what might happen if zombies turned up and invaded the store. It was hilarious and absurd, but something felt real about it – I think everyone fancies they’re a secret hero, a secret bad ass. Those Every Man characters tend to be male, with women relegated to the girlfriend or damsel roles, so I wanted to try a horror/survival story from a woman’s perspective.

The interest in zombies in not only books, but media, has exploded in the past few years. Why do you think they’re so popular all of a sudden?
Things are rough at the moment for most people. There’s unemployment, and fear, and some serious questions about the future of our country and the way things are headed. That kind of turmoil breeds an interest in horror, I think, or maybe more specifically an interest in survival. Zombie stories are satisfying in that way – you’re seeing people at their worst and watching them overcome because of their spirit and determination. It’s a good genre for instilling hope.

What are some of your favorite zombie novels?
World War Z by Max Brooks, obviously, because it’s such a unique approach to the genre and tackles an interesting global perspective. And this is a graphic novel, but The Walking Dead. I don’t think you can rightly call yourself a zombie fan if you haven’t read Kirkman’s work.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I’d do some unethical, almost certainly illegal things to sit down and pick Neil Gaiman’s brain for an afternoon. I just love the way he develops characters and sets a mood. Ian McEwan is another favorite, not just for his storytelling but his amazing command of language. George R R Martin makes me want to write fantasy. Lois McMaster Bujold is also very inspiring, and a woman I look up to and admire.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I have a beastly gaming computer, and it’s just unbelievably distracting. It’s too full of tempting things. If I want to get work done I have to tear myself away from it, and that usually means taking my headphones and laptop and sitting somewhere quite for a while.

Are there any plans for more books in the Allison Hewitt/Sadie Walker universe?
Not at the moment, but that could change. The nice thing about the books is that they’re individual, they relate to each other but they can also stand on their own. That leaves me freedom to return to the universe with a new character, new timeline and location if the inspiration strikes.

When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m an enthusiastic gamer – Skyrim and Star Wars: The Old Republic have been responsible for more than a few late nights recently. I also like to exercise, read and cook. I do a bit of costuming and crafting from time to time, too.

What’s the first thing you’d do to prepare for the zombie apocalypse?
Drink? Kidding… But not really. I’d try to find a reliable weapon – Allison has her ax, and that’s a good choice, although I’d find the necessary proximity a bit daunting. I went shooting, which went all right, but I’d need a lot of practice to become a crack shot. Hoarding food would be an initial step, and trying to check in on loved ones to make sure we’re all safe and ready.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
A few projects are in the works, but nothing solid enough to give any hints. Sorry!

Keep up with Madeleine: Website

Read my reviews of Allison Hewitt is Trapped, and Sadie Walker is Stranded

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 2 copies of Sadie Walker is Stranded: A Zombie Novel to 2 winners.
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 2/6/12
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Books kindly provided by St. Martins Press.

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Sunday Giveaway: Blood and Bullets (Deacon Chalk #1) by James R. Tuck

I have a brand spankin’ new copy of Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck ready for giveaway! It officially releases Feb. 7th, but you can read my review here and also read the interview that I did with James! The only requirement for entry is that you have a US or Canadian address, but there are plenty of other chances for extra entries! Good luck!

About Blood and Bullets:
He lives to kill monsters. He keeps his city safe. And his silver hollow-points and back-from-the-dead abilities help him take out any kind of supernatural threat. But now an immortal evil has this bad-ass bounty hunter dead in its sights. . .

Ever since a monster murdered his family, Deacon Chalk hunts any creature that preys on the innocent. So when a pretty vampire girl “hires” him to eliminate a fellow slayer, Deacon goes to warn him–and barely escapes a vampire ambush. Now he’s got a way-inexperienced newbie hunter to protect and everything from bloodsuckers to cursed immortals on his trail. There’s also a malevolent force controlling the living and the undead, hellbent on turning Deacon’s greatest loss into the one weapon that could destroy him. . .

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!) If you leave a comment, it’s not necessary for you to leave your email in the comments-the Rafflecopter form will ask for it.
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address when you fill out the form
5. You must enter on or before 2/6/12
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Book kindly provided by Kensington.

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Guest Post and Giveaway: Tiffany Allee, author of Banshee Charmer

Courtesy of Entangled Publishing, today I’m turning the blog over to Tiffany Allee, author of Banshee Charmer! Tiffany was kind enough to post about setting the scene in her books, and there’s also a copy of Banshee Charmer up for grabs, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Tiffany to the blog!

Setting the Scene in Chicago by Tiffany Allee

There are a lot of places contemporary novels can be set. I’ve read wonderful stories set in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix, and just about every other major city out there, as well as many smaller cities and town. I recently read a wonderful urban fantasy set in Anchorage—very unusual and interesting. Where a writer decides to set his or her story can have a huge impact, not just on the descriptions, but also on the boundaries of the story itself.

Chicago is hardly an unusual setting for urban fantasy and paranormal romance stories, but I decided to set Banshee Charmer and the rest of my Otherworlder Enforcement Agency series there for a couple of reasons. First, until recently I lived there and had a chance to experience the vibe. Chicago has a feel to it that is very different from any other city I’ve ever lived in. The city itself has a pulse that makes it feel like just the place where murder, mystery, and magic are almost believable.

Second, the Chicago area has many settings within a setting, so to speak. The city is very different from the close suburbs. The close burbs are different from those a bit farther out. Characters can go from an urban to a suburban setting easily, from an upscale neighborhood to one where even cops fear to tread quickly. You can find buildings that are quite old sitting right next to brand new high-rises.

Where do you like to see your stories set? Do you prefer real cities or towns, or do you like it when the author makes up a location?

About Banshee Charmer:
When she’s sent to a crime scene and finds her second dead woman in as many weeks, half-banshee detective Kiera “Mac” McLoughlin is convinced a serial killer is on the loose. Incubi are extinct, her boss insists. But what else can kill a woman in the throes of pleasure? When her partner is murdered after using witchcraft to locate the killer and Mac is thrown off the case, her frustration turns to desperation.

Certain the killer is an incubus, Mac works behind her department’s back to chase down slim, sometimes perilous leads. While the killer eludes her, she does discover handsome Aidan Byrne, an investigative counterpart from the enigmatic Otherworld Enforcement Agency. Mac typically runs her investigations fast and hard, but with Aidan at her side, she’s running this one “hot” as well. But Aiden knows more than he’s letting on—something that could shatter their blazing romance and add Mac to the killer’s growing body count…

Purchase Banshee Charmer: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the author:
Tiffany Allee currently lives in Phoenix, AZ, by way of Chicago and Denver, and is happily married to a secret romantic. She spends her days working in Corporate America while daydreaming about sexy heroes, ass-kicking heroines, and interesting ways to kill people (for her books, of course). Her nights are reserved for writing and bothering her husband and cats (according to them). Her passions include reading, chocolate,travel, wine, and family.
Keep up with Tiffany: Website | Facebook | Twitter

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 ecopy of Banshee Charmer to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 2/4/12
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. E-Book kindly provided by Entangled Publishing.

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Giveaway Winners: All Things Wicked by Karina Cooper and Lair of the Lion by Christine Feehan

I’ve got 2 winners to announce today for All Things Wicked and Lair of the Lion! Thanks to everyone that entered! Just a reminder: please make sure you’ve got my email address (mybookishways (at) yahoo (dot) com) in your contact list so you don’t miss a winning email. I’ve had to pick alternate winners more than a few times in the last few weeks, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out!

All Things Wicked by Karina Cooper

Congrats to Sariah Walters!

Lair of the Lion by Christine Feehan

Congrats to Darlene’s Book Nook!

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

Review: Double Dead (Tomes of the Dead) by Chuck Wendig

Double Dead (Tomes of the Dead) by Chuck Wendig
Abaddon/Nov. 2011

Coburn’s been dead now for close to a century, but seeing as how he’s a vampire and all, it doesn’t much bother him. Or at least it didn’t, not until he awoke from a forced five-year slumber to discover that most of human civilization was now dead—but not dead like him, oh no.

See, Coburn likes blood. The rest of the walking dead, they like brains. He’s smart. Them, not so much. But they outnumber him by about a million to one. And the clotted blood of the walking dead cannot sustain him. Now he’s starving. And nocturnal. And more pissed-off than a bee-stung rattlesnake. The vampire not only has to find human survivors (with their sweet, sweet blood), but now he has to transition from predator to protector—after all, a man has to look after his food supply.

So, you’re a dessicated vampire (that’s gone without blood for years, and has been in a kind of stasis) that comes to in the middle of an abandoned theatre with zombies nomming on, well, everything living. What do you do? You need to get blood, right? Our vamp, Coburn, attempts to do just that, but when he bites into one of the zombies, he quickly realizes that zombie blood is bad for his health. Well then, it’s time to find some of the living, yes?

After heading outside and realizing that the world has pretty much gone to hell, and tangling with some of the living dead, he comes across a group of survivors. Food! Not so fast. Key among this group is a 15 year old girl named Kayla, who’s not about to have Coburn feeding off her father and her friends, so she strikes an unlikely deal with the vampire. Coburn protects the group from cannibals (we’ll get to that), and other baddies, and they’ll make sure he gets to feed. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Yeah, not so much…

Coburn the vampire is a foul mouthed, hedonistic, arrogant, self-centered son of a bitch, and he knows this, so how the hell he let this kid talk him into this deal, he’s not sure, but he is hungry, and he could use a place to crash, so he hops on board the RV that our little ragtag group has commandeered. What follows is a pretty wild ride through a destroyed American landscape populated with things much, much worse than the walking dead.

Double Dead is a terrifying, violent, American road trip through zombie hell. Wendig throws in a cannibalistic group that brings to mind something right out of Rob Zombie’s worst nightmares, zombies out the wazoo (of course), a military compound taken over by trigger happy yahoos dressed like clowns (I kept picturing Killer Clowns From Outer Space), and some hybrid creatures that will make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The author spares no gruesome detail, but lest the word “gratuitous” start floating around in your mind, it’s really…not. The gore is necessary to the story and it’s tempered with a fair amount of black humor. Aside from the flying body parts and decapitations, it has probably one of the grossest (yet creative) vampire feeding scenes that I think I’ve ever read (seriously, *shudder*.) Double Dead made me laugh and cringe in equal measure, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it does have heart. Yep, this gritty, gross, blood drenched vamp/zombie fest has a heart. I certainly didn’t expect to develop a certain amount of grudging affection for Coburn (and his little dog Creampuff), but I did! There’s also something special about our Kayla, but I’m not going to give away that secret. It’s just part of the awesome that is this book.

The author credits Robert McCammon (one of my all-time fave authors) at the end of the book as inspiration, and I can certainly see shades of Swan Song in Double Dead. Amongst the horror, there are themes of loyalty, redemption, and even love that the author manages to weave in with an expert hand. Chuck Wendig has one sick, twisted imagination, but in his case, it’s a talent, and he poured that talent into this kick ass vampire/zombie apocalypse tale. Crisp writing, bullet fast pacing, and twists that I didn’t see coming make this one a can’t-miss for horror/zombie fans. The damn thing even made me cry. Seriously. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, a little sick (ok, maybe more than a little), a little funny, and a lot awesome, pick up Double Dead, and get your freak on, yeah?

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Giveaway Winners: Don’t Bite the Messenger by Regan Summers

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