Pure by Julianna Baggott
Publisher:Hachette/Feb. 8th, 2012
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.
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!
I’m so excited to have Julianna Baggott on the blog today! Her brand new dystopian fantasy, Pure, is out today, and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions! Also, up for grabs is one copy of Pure to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the end of the post.
Please welcome Julianna to the blog!
Julianna, you’re a very accomplished writer, with more than 17 titles in print under your own name, as well as a couple of pen names, and began publishing at only 22! Did you want to be a writer, even as a child?
I wanted to be a playwright. My oldest sister was an actress living in NYC by the time I was ten so I went to a lot of theater — a lot of those theaters were so small that if you had to go to the bathroom, well, there was only one. Backstage, so you’d have to interrupt the actors. I knew the nervous smoker in the back was the playwright, in charge of the words. I wanted to be in charge of the words. But then I realized in college that you have to rely on the actors. Novels were much more manageable than actors.
Your brand new novel, Pure, is out today! Can you tell us a bit about it?
It starts with Pressia, a girl who’s survived the Detonations, and is hiding in an ash-choked cabinet — a girl with a doll-head fused to her fist. Partridge survived the Detonations in the safety of the Dome. When he learns that his martyred mother may actually be alive, he has to try to find her. From that moment on, Pressia and Partridge’s lives are set on a collision course.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the most profound early influence. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude at 17 and it was the most brilliant thing I’d ever read. I loved playwrights, too — Sam Shepard, David Mamet … They were gods in my house growing up. Eventually, I found poetry — Seamus Heaney, Margaret Atwood, Adelia Prado, Marie Howe, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Bridget Pegeen Kelly… And I fell for the tight imagistic burst of poetry.
What is one of your most unusual writing quirks?
Some books require being low to the ground. I can’t explain it. But some books, when you think of them, you can’t be sitting upright in a chair. You’ve got to get low. PURE, when visualizing it, well, I wanted to be closer to the dirt.
If you could read one book for the first time again, which one would it be?
I’ve found that when I pick a book up that I read twenty years ago … it is new. It’s startlingly different than the emotional stain it left. Sometimes disappointingly so and sometimes it’s new in a way that makes it even more compelling.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
After the Snow — a new novel, a debut, in fact, by S. D Crockett.
In addition to what must be a busy writing schedule, you also teach creative writing at Florida State. How do you balance teaching and writing?
I’m on leave now, but even still I continue to work with my graduate students as they work on their dissertations which are often novels, memoirs, collections of stories. What gets squeezed out is reading the new published novels I’m dying to read. My eyes have burned through my own work, the students’ works, and my eyes are simply tired. I read and read and yet don’t have enough time to read.
I read that you and your husband founded the non-profit, Kids in Need-Books in Deed! Can you tell us more about that?
It’s a small non-profit housed in the FSU Foundation. We get new and lightly used books to underprivileged kids in the state of Florida — mainly through book drives but also donations. We arranged for kid book author Laurel Snyder to read to 300 school children at a Title I school this fall, donating her time. Kids in Need — Books in Deed was able to get every child a copy of one of her books. We move books around and, finally, into kids’ hands.
How do you like to spend your free time, when you’re not teaching and writing?
I have four kids. When I’m not working, I’m still swamped. I’ll say this: when I’m in the car, I sing along to the radio. That’s about it.
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Pure is out now. Book two, Fuse, is in the works and scheduled to come out this time next year.
Keep up with Julianna: Website | Twitter | Pure Website | Facebook
Isn’t this just a totally appropriate title for Valentine’s Day? I’ve got 2 copies up for grabs for 2 winners, and this is a Facebook giveaway, so it will ask you to “Like” my Facebook page, but I wanted to include the info and widget here for you. You don’t have to fill out the widget twice, but it is available on the Giveaway page of my Facebook.
About A Town Called Valentine
Welcome to Valentine Valley—where broken hearts come home to mend, and true love may lie just across the range . . .
Emily Murphy never thought she’d return to her mom’s rustic hometown in the Colorado Mountains. But after her marriage in San Francisco falls apart, leaving her penniless and heartsick, she returns to her old family home to find a new direction for her life. On her first night back, though, a steamy encounter with handsome rancher Nate Thalberg is not the fresh start she had in mind . . .
Nate has good reason not to trust the determined beauty who just waltzed into town—he’s no stranger to betrayal. Besides, she’s only there to sell her family’s old property and move back out. But as Nate and Emily begin working side-by-side to restore her time-worn building and old family secrets change Emily’s perception of herself, both are about to learn how difficult it is to hide from love in a place known far and wide for romance, family ties, and happily-ever-afters: a town called Valentine.
Dark Awakening (Dark Dynasties Book 1) by Kendra Leigh Castle
Publisher:Hachette (Forever Romance)/July 2011
Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Dark Dynasties Series
Enter the world of the Dark Dynasties . . .
For centuries, shapeshifting vampire Tynan MacGillivray has prowled the night as an outcast, valued only for his ferocious hunting skills. When a feud among the immortals escalates into all-out war, he is ordered by his ruthless queen to locate a Seer-a human woman with a special gift-who can secure victory for their clan. Ty’s search leads him to a quiet New England town, but once he has the Seer in his grasp, her touch awakens within him a hunger like he’s never known . . .
Lily Quinn has always been different. Since childhood, she’s had vivid nightmares and an eerie sixth sense. When a sexy, silver-eyed stranger demands her help, Lily plunges into a new world of danger and sensuality. With Ty, she discovers sizzling passions she cannot deny and powers she cannot control. Soon, it is clear that Lily is much more than a Seer-she holds the key to ancient secrets and unthinkable destruction. But will a vampire’s vow of eternal protection stop these evil forces . . . or unleash her dark destiny?
Tynan MacGillivray, vampire and Cait Sidhe (he shifts into a large cat), is on the hunt for a Seer at the behest of vamp queen Arsinoe. Just when he thinks he’ll have to go back empty handed, he meets the lovely and compelling Lily Quinn. There’s definitely something different about Ms. Quinn, and he thinks he might have found the Seer he’s looking for. A Mulo (gypsy curse) has been set lose upon Arsinoe’s people, causing them to die in terrible ways, and she needs a Seer to determine who’s laid the curse. Arsinoe lays the blame firmly at the feet of one of the other vampire dynasties, but it’s never that easy, and finding the culprit may be a tougher bet than she counted on. Little does Arsinoe know, Ty and Lily create quite the combo, and things are about to get wild in the world of the dynasties.
Dark Awakening is just a wonderful start to this series. Lily goes from unassuming teacher to possible revolutionary, and at her side is the brooding, mildly insecure, handsome Ty. Granted, Lily has had some serious nightmares just about all her life hinting that she might be a little more than meets the eye, and she’s got plenty of raw power, then there’s that mark she has… I loved the author’s unique world of mythology, shape shifting vamps, court intrigue, assassins, and dark romance, and Lily and Ty’s relationship feels very real and passionate, never forced. We also get to meet one of the characters in her second novel, Midnight Reckoning, Jaden, and trust me, you’ll want to get to know him better. In my opinion, in spite of the paranormal romance label, Dark Awakening should be quite at home in any urban fantasy collection. Kendra Leigh Castle is a talent to watch, and she’s certainly on my autobuy. Highly recommended.
There’s a ton of new releases this week, so check ‘em out (most release Feb. 7th)
Blood and Bullets (Deacon Chalk Bounty Hunter) by James R. Tuck | REVIEW
Pure by Julianna Baggott
The Iron Heart by Leslie Dicken
The Dragon Stirs by Lynda Aicher
Yours, Mine and Howls: Werewolves in Love, Book 2 by Kinsey W. Holley
Shaded Vision (Otherworld) by Jasmine Galenorn
Unbroken (Outcast Season, Book 4) by Rachel Caine
Alpha Instinct: A Moon Shifter Novel by Katie Reus
Apocalypse to Go (Nola O’Grady) by Katharine Kerr
Forest Moon Rising: A Tess Noncoire Adventure by P.R. Frost
Garrett Takes the Case (Garrett, P. I.) by Glen Cooke
Key of Solomon by Cassiel Knight
Midnight Enchantment (A Dark Magick Novel) by Anya Bast
Westward Weird ed. by Martin H. Greenberg
Vengeance Born (A Novel of the Light Blade) by Kylie Griffin
Siren’s Desire: A Dark Tides Novel by Devyn Quinn
Something About Witches (Berkley Sensation) by Joey Hill
Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom by Jonathan Maberry, Tobias S. Buckell, Joe R. Landsdale, and more
The Walled Flower (Victoria Square Mystery) by Lorraine Bartlett
Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder
One Book in the Grave: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle
The Bedlam Detective: A Novel by Stephen Gallagher
Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book One by Jessica Spotswood
The Wood Queen: An Iron Witch Novel by Karen Mahoney
It’s that time of year, when love is in the air, so how about a paranormal romance giveaway? I’ll be doing a couple of these giveaways leading up to Valentine’s Day, with some historical romance, contemporary romance, and maybe even a little more paranormal thrown in there, so keep an eye out!
Up for grabs today is Sexiest Vampire Alive by Kerrelyn Sparks and A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister! Good luck!
About Sexiest Vampire Alive:
The secret is out . . . Vampires do exist!
When a video reveals to the world that vampires live among us, it’s up to “young” vamp Gregori Holstein, VP of Marketing, to persuade the U.S. government to declare the video a hoax. But first the president wants a favor, one that requires Gregori to spend forty-eight hours in very close contact with the First Daughter.
Abby Tucker would rather spend her nights in a lab than attend her father’s state dinners. She’s dedicated her life to finding a cure that will save her dying mother and needs only two more ingredients. To find them, she’ll have to venture into the most dangerous region of the world—with a vampire. Her Armani-clad escort may be Undead, but he still makes her heart race. And the greatest danger won’t be the predatory hordes lying in wait for them; it will be her undying desire for the Sexiest Vampire Alive.
About A Girl’s Guide to Vampires:
Joy Randall’s Top 5 Tips for Vampire Hunters:
Location, location, location. Vampires won’t be caught dead (ha!) in places like discos, ten-minute lube shops, or Switzerland. Remember, if you wouldn’t be there, neither would a bloodsucker.
Trust your eyes. You know the handsome, annoyingly arrogant, self-assured man in the shadows with long hair and a cleft in his chin? He’s your vampire.
No matter how tempting it might be, do not “accidentally” acquire a paper cut on your finger and suggest your vampire kiss it to make it better.
Play it cool. Don’t offer to accompany your prince of the night on the talk-show circuit, and whatever you do, don’t offer him your heart!
Most of all, remember: being a vampire is nothing to laugh about.
I’ve got a winner for Banshee Charmer (ebook) by Tiffany Allee! Thanks to everyone that entered!
Congrats to Daniela Pagnotta Alis!
*Winner was chosen by Rafflecopter and has been notified. Thanks again to everyone that entered!
I’m so thrilled to have Kristen Callihan here as part of her tour with Kendra Leigh Castle! Kristen is the author of Firelight, the first book in the Darkest London series (read my review), and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Keep an eye out in the next week or so, when Kendra will be stopping by the blog to talk about her newest book, Midnight Reckoning.
Courtesy of the kind folks at Hachette, I’ve got 3 copies of Firelight up for grabs for 3 lucky winners, so check out the giveaway deets at the end of the post!
Please welcome Kristen to the blog!
Kristen, your first novel, Firelight, just came out Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I was always a daydreamer, but I am also slightly dyslexic and left-handed so writing by hand was not something I enjoyed as a child. It was only when I reached my twenties –and had a laptop handy!- that I sat down one day and tried to write out a scene from a daydream that had been plaguing me. I had no idea where the story was going; I was just tinkering around for fun. I never looked back!
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
Eventually, that first scene I wrote turned into a book. I got an agent and shopped it around. But it failed to sell. The main problems noted were that the story was in 1st person (a big romance no-no), set in America (not so hot in the historical market) and quite long (about 700 pages. –yes, I know, THAT long. )
So I sat down and tried again. And while I probably ought to have been terrified about trying again, the story came on so strong and sure that I never hesitated. I was in total love with it. I didn’t care a whit what anyone thought of it. That story was FIRELIGHT. Selling it wasn’t easy. It took a year and some major revisions –it too was in 1st person (what can I say? I liked 1st person!) and I had to change it to 3rd, but sell it did! And I was very relieved!
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Honestly, it is everything I’ve read and still read. I have a great love for romance, for spy thrillers, mysteries, and paranormal tales. Each time I read something, those loves grow, ideas take hold, and I find myself wanting to write my own stories.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
My nightstand has a big cubby, in which there are about thirty books. However, currently on the top of all those books is Burning Up, a paranormal anthology, which includes Meljean Brook’s novella Here There Be Monsters. To me, this is hands-down the best novella I’ve ever read. It is a freaking work of art and I am in awe of it.
If you could read a book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Here There Be Monsters would be a good start, lol! The Harry Potter series. I loved each one, but now that I know how it ends, it’s a different read.
Have you ever “faked” reading a book, and if so, which one was it?
All the time! In high school. “Sure, I read Flowers For Algernon! Test you say? Eh…” Actually, I’m a pretty good skimmer. I can flip through a book and find the basic story in about ten minutes. So I faked a lot of books reads throughout high school without much consequences. Nowadays, I won’t lie. If you ask me if I’ve read Ulysses, I’ll answer, no, no I have not, and no I don’t think I will.
When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Reading! I’m pretty much a homebody. If I’m not reading, I’m snuggled on the couch with my husband and watching TV, or going out to dinner and a movie. I like being with my close friends and family.
If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
So many places, so little time! I’m dying to go to Italy. But as it is February, I wouldn’t want to go now. So I’d go to London because I’m writing about there and I’d love to soak up the atmosphere. I’ve been before, but it was years ago.
What’s something that makes you laugh out loud?
Mike Meyers. Thinking about the time my husband screamed like a little girl when he saw a mouse in the house. (yes, I’m a sick woman!)
What piece of advice would you give a struggling writer?
Don’t give up. Don’t let ANYONE talk you into quitting your dream. We are constantly bombarded with rejection, be it during the agent search or by a bad review. These are simply opinions, not fact. They can’t hurt you unless you let them.
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Let’s see… Other than Firelight, I have a short story as well called EMBER. Ember was written as a companion piece for Firelight and tells the story of what happens to Miranda and Archer between the time when they first meet until the time when they meet again. People have asked in what order should they read Ember and Firelight, and it is hard for me to say. They go hand in hand, and Ember was intended to be something rather like bonus material in a DVD. It is definitely its own story but it makes better sense when placed in context with Firelight.
And then there is Moonglow, book 2 in the Darkest London series. Moonglow is the story of Miranda’s sister Daisy, and Ian Ranulf, who is now the marquis of Northrup. Daisy has attracted the attentions of a mad werewolf who is terrorizing the streets of London, and Ian is her reluctant and unlikely savior. This is more the classic Victorian horror set up in that this is a battle between good vs. evil. But like Firelight, it begs the question, what truly makes a monster? And how can you love another when you cannot love yourself?
After Moonglow, will be Winterblaze, which is sister Poppy’s story, and then Book 4, which involve characters who appear in Moonglow. As the series progresses, readers will delve deeper into this supernatural London, and the beasties that hide in plain sight.
Keep up with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian #1) by Diana Rowland
Publisher: Bantam/June 2009
Kara Gillian Series
Cop and conjurer of demons, she’s a woman in danger of losing control—to a power that could kill….
Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives—and souls—of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.
Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head…
Mark of the Demon is the first book in Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillian series and after reading and loving My Life As a White Trash Zombie, I was eager for more of Rowland’s work. Kara is a brand new homicide detective in Beaulac’s tiny police force. She’s also a summoner. That would be a summoner of demons. When trying to summon a lower demon, she accidentally brings through something else; a beautiful creature named Rhyzkahl, who seems to know her every dream and desire, and doesn’t hesitate to offer to satisfy those desires. When a horribly mutilated body is found, and Kara is called to the scene, she knows it’s the work of The Symbol Man, and is shocked when she’s put in charge of the investigation. However, she’s determined to get to the bottom of this shocking, brutal killer and will stop at nothing to find him.
Mark of the Demon took me back a little to the early days of Anita Blake, and that’s a good thing. I loved the combination of serial killer thriller and urban fantasy, and Kara is a very likeable, strong protagonist. She’s spent most of her life keeping people at arm’s length (especially men), lest they find out her secret life as a summoner and student of the arcane. So, you can imagine what happens when not only Rhyskahl, but a handsome FBI agent comes into her life. The added pressure of being the head of a major task force only adds to Kara’s stress, but our girl can take the heat, no doubt. I really enjoyed the author’s unique take on demons and I’ll look forward to learning more as the series goes on. Taut prose and fairly fast pacing round out a great start to this series. I’m actually glad that I just now started it, since I can read the next three straight through! Mark of the Demon is a must for any urban fantasy fan’s shelves!
I’ve got my winners for The Dark Rose Giveaway! Thanks so much to everyone that entered! Please, please, please check your spam if you didn’t get an email, and be sure to add me to your contact so you don’t miss a winning email (mybookishways at yahoo dot com). I’ve had to pick quite a few alternate winners lately…:(
Congrats to Vivian, Carol Mintz, and Kelly Mills!
*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified, and have 48 hours to respond. Thanks again to everyone that entered!