I’ve got 3 giveaway winners to announce today! Thanks to everyone that entered and congrats!
Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Congrats to Steve Zielinski
Cinder (and mirror) by Marissa Meyer
Update as of 1/21/12: 1st winner never responded, so new winner is Kayla Beck!
Enclave by Ann Aguirre and Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari
Congrats to Latoya
*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified, and have 48 hours to reply. Thanks again to everyone that entered!
Sadie Walker is Stranded: A Zombie Novel by Madeleine Roux
Publisher: St. Martins Press/Jan. 31, 2012
Kind thanks to St. Martins Press for providing a review copy
MONTHS AGO THE WORLD ENDED…
…when an unknown virus spread throughout North America and then the world, killing millions of people. However, that is where the horror only started. The dead began to rise and when they rose they had an insatiable appetite for the living. A new hell had been unleashed on earth and the fight for survival had just begun.
Sadie Walker is one of the survivors in this new world. Living in north Seattle behind barrier that keep the living in and the dead out, she trying to get back to a normal life, while raising her eight-year-old nephew, if anyone even knows what “normal” is anymore. Then everything goes sideways when Shane is kidnapped by a group of black market thieves and they bring down a crucial barrier in the city while trying to escape, and flood the city with the walking dead. After rescuing her nephew, Sadie and Shane escape Seattle on the last remaining boat, along with other survivors. However, now they must face the complete chaos of a world filled with flesh eating zombies and humans who are playing with a whole new rule book when it comes to survival in their journey to find a new place that they can call home.
So, what do you do if your 8 year old nephew is kidnapped by your supposed boyfriend and his group of thugs, intent on selling him to the highest bidder? Oh wait, also, this group of idiots, intent on making their escape, brings down part of the wall around Seattle that’s keeping the walking dead out, flooding the city with moaning, groaning flesh eaters. If you’re Sadie Walker, you rescue your nephew and catch a ride on the last boat out of the harbor, intent on getting you and your nephew, to safety. Sadie, along with her nephew, Shane, and her good friend Andrea (one of the few people left that she trusts), know it’s going to be tough going, but they’re hopeful that they’ll find safety, maybe in the San Juan islands. It’s not the best plan, but it’s the only one they have. When zombies strike, and they run aground ahead of schedule, they’re forced to make camp and hope the area isn’t infested with zombies. Desperate to reestablish trust with Shane, Sadie is determined to make the best of a bad situation.
Bad situation doesn’t begin to cover it. Picking up 7 months after the outbreak that caused zombie hordes to decimate humankind, every day is a struggle, and artist Sadie is finding it hard to leave her old life behind. Her nephew depends on her, however, and that’s a big part of what keeps her going, even in the face of pretty crappy odds. Aside from the zombies, there are a few members of their little group that she’s not sure she can trust, and when they meet another group on the other side of the island, things really begin to get interesting. So, when the going gets tough, Sadie asks herself: What would Allison do?
The Allison in question is Allison Hewitt from Allison Hewitt is Trapped, the first zombie novel by Madeleine Roux. I loved Allison Hewitt, so I had high hopes for Sadie Walker, and wasn’t disappointed. In Sadie Walker, Allison is become a folk hero, and is an inspiration to Sadie when things are looking especially bleak. Ms. Roux’s writing is top notch, and she manages to take the zombie genre and keep it alive and kicking, so to speak. There’s plenty of zombie killin’ action, and the author doesn’t shy away from throwing plenty of adversity at our heroine and her friends. Sadie is a tough cookie, but her vulnerability does shine through, especially when it comes to her nephew, and trusting others. When a rather hunky former cop tests the bounderies of that trust, Sadie finds her priorities shifting, and when a very human danger threatens her new “tribe”, she’ll have to dig deep and find the strength to save her friends. This is such a great series, and near impossible to put down. I really love how the author tackles the small details of survival and what the aftermath of such a horrendous event would be like, while creating tense scenarios among well rounded and rich characterizations. Horror and UF fans will find much to love with Sadie Walker. Just like Allison Hewitt, this one’s a keeper!
Please welcome author James R. Tuck to the blog! James is the author of the novella That Thing at the Zoo, which is a prequel to his upcoming urban fantasy Blood and Bullets, and introduces his hero, Deacon Chalk. James is here as part of his blog tour, and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. The man is the coolest and has great taste, seriously, so read on and be sure to check out the review and order links for the books!
James, you’ve gone from tattoo artist to published author, with the debut of your brand new urban fantasy, Blood and Bullets! Can you tell us a bit about your journey? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Truthfully, the writing bug really hit me fairly recently. I had dabbled before, but it wasn’t until the last half of 2009 or so that I seriously applied myself to it. I spent a lot of time, a decade and a half, building my career as a professional tattoo artist. I learned skills, got some work published in magazines, worked conventions, and opened my own shop. Now I am still a tattoo artist, it’s something that is pretty ingrained in my blood and literally, in my skin, but I am also opening up my life to a career as an author and loving every minute of it.
Can you tell us a bit about Blood and Bullets?
BLOOD AND BULLETS is my ode to all things that I love in Urban Fantasy. It’s monsters and guns and action, and scares. I put a lot into this book. It’s my first and I really pulled out all the stops. But it is a dark book. I tried to pour into this book a realistic sensibility. I was like: “If all this crazy monster stuff were real, then how harsh would that life be?” The book pulls no punches.
It’s about a monsterhunter named Deacon Chalk. His family was killed five years ago and after hunting down the monster who killed them he just kept on hunting. One night a vampire tries to hire him to protect her from a vampire hunter named Nyteblade. But Deacon has one solid rule: He doesn’t work for monsters, he kills them. After enforcing his one and only rule he goes to warn this Nyteblade that the vampires are out to get him. He finds Nyteblade is the bait in a trap for him. A trap of a horde of waiting vampires.
Someone has set Deacon up.
Someone should have sent more vampires.
It’s a crazy book.
When you started writing, did you have in mind about how many books you’d like to write in the series, or will you just see where Deacon takes you?
Well, I do have the next 10 books planned out. Lol. I can see the series going beyond that. But the stuff I have outlined for the future is insane. I plan to really push the boundaries of what is out there in the world of urban fantasy.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Hands down Robert E. Howard and Don Pendelton. Both of them really influenced my early reading years and they still stick with me. Howard’s Conan books are still some of the best books written. They are excellent. Dark and poetic, with a simple brutality that works as an illustration to the nobility that you find in the character of Conan.
Don Pendelton wrote the Mack Bolan series, which still goes on but not by him. But his character is similar to Deacon. He lost his family and that drives who he is and what he does. But those early books are pretty rough. The writing isn’t very good, but the character is terrific.
What’s one of your most unusual writing habits?
I write in fits and starts. Like a house of fire for a few days and then nothing for a few days. I swing between 5-6,000 words a day to 0 words a day. Beyond that I just write when and where I can… a lot of it happens at the tattoo shop.
But I can’t write while the tv is on. Nothing with dialog, unless I want that dialog to end up on the page. Which becomes really awkward when the Missus is watching Hoarders.
If you could read a book again for the first time, what would it be?
I don’t know. I actually enjoy rereading the good stuff. I frequently make runs through the Anita Blake series, the Dresden Files, Andrew Vachss Burke series, and the book High Fidelity. So the first time again? Probably doesn’t apply to me since I love the reread. I get a lot out of it the second time because I am not so looking forward to what is going to happen. I can concentrate on how it happens instead.
What are you reading right now?
I am working through Charlie Huston’s books. They are really good, well-done crime books. I love crime books. I will write one. One day.
When you’re not busy writing (and tattooing) , how do you like to spend your free time?
I hang with the family. I love my wife and kids and dogs. We all get along great and they are truly a joy and wonderful to be around.
That and watching 24 on Netflix. Jack Bauer will save the world!
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Well, I am knee deep in writing book 3 in the Deacon Chalk series. I also have the third e-novella to write and then I am on to something new. There will be more Deacon, believe that, but after the breakneck pace I have been writing (195,000 words in the Deaconverse in about 1 year) I am ready to shift gears and write something different. Maybe that crime novel I was talking about earlier.
As for events I have booked in Con Nooga in Chattanooga TN, Timegate in Atlanta Ga, and Con Carolinas in Charlotte NC. There are others but they still have to be finalized.
Folks can grab all the details at my website www.jamesrtuck.com
Keep up with James: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Blood and Bullets (Deacon Chalk #1) by James R. Tuck
Publisher: Kensington/Feb. 7th, 2011
Deacon Chalk Series
Kind thanks to the author and Kensington for providing a review copy
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. . .
Deacon Chalk is a man with a mission. After he’s cornered by a young vamp asking for his protection outside his place of business, he knows something’s not right. He kills vamps. He certainly doesn’t protect them, and when he’s jumped by a group of vamps bent on draining him dry, along with a (very) amateur vampire hunter, he’s sure something big is going down. His search for the culprit leads him to a very powerful vamp bent on dominating Deacon to her will, but that’s not gonna happen, and Deacon’s going to make sure of it.
With a genre that’s dominated by female writers, I’m always excited to see an urban fantasy title come out written by a dude. Not to mention that it’s nice to see a fresh voice in the genre, period. Deacon Chalk is a man’s man. He loves his guns, packs a lot of heat, and knocks heads with the best of them. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a heart, because he does, and the author makes that point more than a few times. I mean, the man’s family was brutally taken by monsters, and it’s what drives him to kill them. There’s also no black and white with vamps in Blood and Bullets. They’re evil, period, and they certainly don’t sparkle. Deacon will have some help from unlikely folks, namely a priest that kicks some pretty serious ass, a were-spider, and an immortal with quite a rich history. Blood and Bullets has some awkward bits, but I attribute that firmly to first-book growing pains¸ and all in all it was a fun, fast-paced¸ rocket powered read. I couldn’t help but like Deacon and I’m anxious to see what the author does with the supporting cast in future books. Great action scenes round out a promising start to what looks to be a fun series!
Better late than never! There’s some great new releases this week, so check ‘em out (most release Jan. 17th)
Home Fires by Gene Wolfe
Something Wikkid This Way Comes: A Novella by Nicole Peeler
In the Lion’s Mouth by Michael Flynn
Dark Victory by Michele Lang
Ghosts of Boyfriends Past by Vivi Andrews
Dead Low Tide: A Novel by Bret Lott
The Chalk Girl by Carol O’Connell
The Face Thief: A Novel by Eli Gottlieb
Gone West: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery by Carola Dunn
The Look of Love: A Piper Donovan Mystery by Mary Jane Clark
I’m so excited to have Regan Summers on the blog today! Regan is the author of the brand new urban fantasy/paranormal Don’t Bite the Messenger (if you want to read my review, we’ll be here when you get back:), and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions! She’s also offering an e-copy of Don’t Bite the Messenger to 2 winners (one US/Canada and one International), so check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Please welcome Regan to the blog!
Regan, your brand new paranormal romance, Don’t Bite the Messenger, just came out! Did you always want to be a writer? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
I’ve always been an avid reader and I think my desire to write came from wanting to see more of the characters I loved, whose stories had ended. About four years ago, I realized my dream of publication wasn’t just going to happen. It would require serious time and effort, as well as massive amounts of patience, humility and persistence. I barely knew how to spell “patience” before I started writing with the intent of publication; I know it well now.
Can you tell us a bit about Don’t Bite the Messenger?
To me, Alaska is the perfect setting for vampires. Why would they live somewhere where they’d be stuck indoors for half the day when, in December, there are only about five hours of murky daylight in Alaska’s largest city?
I created a world where vampires aren’t just known, they’re involved in human politics and economics and they migrate toward the poles when the balance of darkness shifts. They also emit energy that fries electricity and cell phone signals. Their correspondence is hand-written and delivered by human couriers who can work round-the-clock and are, essentially, expendable.
Sydney, our heroine, never had much luck until a courier saw her being chased by police. She shook the police, but he tracked her down and invited her to give the courier gig a try. She’s good at it, but the job is tough. Most couriers die young: in car wrecks; at the hands of hijackers; manipulated by vampires; or killed while thrill-seeking during their off hours.
As the story begins, Syd has a plan to get out of Anchorage and out of the profession. But bad fortune strikes once more and she finds herself caught up in a war between feuding vampire gangs. To survive she’ll need her wits and the help of Malcolm Kelly, a charming and occasionally infuriating man she can’t seem to shake no matter what turns she takes.
I enjoy exploring the psychological changes a person undergoes when they’ve been turned into something antithetical to the most fundamental human value: life. I also like examining how a once-human mind copes with a sudden influx of power, hunger, and longevity. Does the vampire allow himself to be overcome by this new hunger? Does he long to be human, or revel in his new design? These questions run in the background of Messenger, but I think they make the vampire characters unpredictable and quite compelling.
What do you like best about writing paranormal romance?
I like sweet romance as much as the next girl, but there’s something hilarious and breath-stealing about lobbing powerful enemies, age-old rivalries, and magical compulsions at a couple, then waiting to see if they’ll make it to the end of the story together.
Do you have any unusual writing quirks?
I can’t write with noise. In fact I have to wear headphones, but I can’t even play music on them. This is especially embarrassing when I’m in public and someone realizes they aren’t plugged in, so I look like a dork emulating an air traffic controller.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I’m addicted to Shakespeare, enamored of Robin McKinley, and regularly blown away by Ilona Andrews and Lilith Saintcrow. I’m certain they’ve influenced me along the way.
If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
What an excellent question! Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient. I tipped off the edge of the world and fell into this story. It’s constructed of lyrical prose, a seamless inclusion of period details, and is the tragic story of the loose ends of war. It would be a privilege to be able to read it again for the first time.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Watching my three-year old son interact with the world and helping him learn about it. Traveling, especially to warm places, preferably with clear, blue water. And cooking, because I really like to eat.
What is your favorite thing about living in Alaska? Where would you take a first time visitor?
The mountains. This isn’t an especially pleasant place to live, but it is beautiful and I’ve always felt exposed when I’m not surrounded by tall, pointed peaks.
The two experiences I consider essential for first-timers: sightseeing and salmon fishing in Resurrection Bay, and hiking at Hatcher Pass. There are a million other things to do, but that’s an excellent start.
Is there any news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
I’m finishing the sequel to Messenger and am really excited about this story. Like, giggling maniacally. That excited. Malcolm’s past bubbles up into the present, putting Sydney in a seriously uncomfortable position. She handles it in her usual, pragmatic way, by which I mean she leaves a trail of destruction behind her. This story is considerably longer than Don’t Bite the Messenger, and it is a lot of fun.
Keep up with Regan: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Don’t Bite the Messenger by Regan Summers
Publisher: Carina Press/Jan. 2012
The vampire population may have created an economic boom in Alaska, but their altered energy field fries most technology. They rely on hard-living—and short-lived—couriers to get business done…couriers like Sydney Kildare.
Sydney has survived to the ripe old age of twenty-six by being careful. She’s careful when navigating her tempestuous clients, outrunning hijackers and avoiding anyone who might distract her from her plan of retiring young to a tropical, vampire-free island.
Her attitude—and immunity to vampires’ allure—have made her the target of a faction of vampires trying to reclaim their territory. Her only ally is Malcolm Kelly, a secretive charmer with the uncanny habit of showing up whenever she’s in trouble. Caught in the middle of a vampire turf war, Sydney has to count on Malcolm to help her survive, or the only place she’ll retire is her grave…
Sydney Kildare is a vampire courier in Alaska, and it’s not a job for the faint of heart. Navigating the powerful world of vamp politics and wheeling and dealing, while keeping not only her wits about her, but her blood in her body, isn’t easy, and she’s one of the best in the biz. However, the stress is taking its toll, and she’s ready to pack it in and retire to a beach house on the shores of Oahu. Then she meets Malcolm Kelly. Mal is a vamp very good at passing for human, so when she finds out his true nature, she’s surprised, to say the least. She’s also surprised at the instant sparks between them. However, Sydney isn’t one to let romantic complications get in the way of her plans. After getting caught in the crossfire of vamp politics, she’s nearly a casualty, and that’s when she decides it’s time to cut her losses. But the vamps have other ideas…
Sydney is exactly my kind of heroine; tough, smart, resourceful, but not without her Achilles’ heels and vulnerabilities. She’s built some walls, but Mal just may be the one guy that can tear them down. Don’t Bite the Messenger is a lightning fast urban fantasy/romance, and Sydney’s voice grabbed me from page one. Regan Summers’ writing is taut, electric and crackles with tension. There’s nothing sappy here, and I really enjoyed the whipsmart (and admittedly hawt) love story. Mal is certainly equal to the task of winning Sydney over, but their’s is not a fairy tale love affair. There are car chases, shootouts, and of course, some good ol’ butt kickin’. The only thing I DIDN’T like is that Don’t Bite the Messenger wasn’t longer. Seriously, loved this one, and can’t wait for Regan Summers’ next story!
Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Benny Imura Series
REVIEW (I reviewed this wayyyy back when it first came out and I was still on Blogger, but it got lost in the move, so here it is, all prettied up and shiny!)
Rot & Ruin has zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. It also has all of the good stuff that usually accompanies zombies, thrills, chills, and of course, kills. However, Rot & Ruin is not a zombie book, not in the traditional sense. It’s a coming of age story in a time where everything is dangerous, and nothing is quite how it seems, and about the birth of a hero.
The book begins about 15 years after First Night, when the dead started coming back to life, and focuses on Benny Imura, 14, and his older, zombie hunter brother Tom. Benny is about to turn 15, and that means he’ll have to get a job, or his food rations will be cut in half. I’ll be honest, at the start of this book, I thought Benny Imura, our 15 year old star, was a whining, moody little brat and was actually worried that I wasn’t going to like him at all. On the other hand, his older brother Tom was a quiet, kind, strong presence that eventually grew into a much bigger role later in the novel. Benny tries his hand at a number of jobs before deciding, kicking and screaming, to go into the “family business”, aka zombie hunting, or as Tom prefers, becoming a “closure specialist”. Benny has fuzzy, vague memories about Tom running away with him and leaving his parents to the mercy of the zombies on First Night, and has nursed bitter resentment for him ever since. Benny idolizes the obnoxious, loud mouthed bounty hunter Charlie, and thinks his brother is a coward, not only for what he perceives happened on First Night, but because Tom rarely talks about what he does to put food on the table.
It’s only when Tom takes Benny out into the Rot & Ruin (the zombie infested area beyond their fenced in town), that Benny begins to realize just what his brother does on a daily basis, and his entire world view is turned upside down, and when his friend Nix is kidnapped by zombie hunters with the most evil of plans, Benny has to look inside himself to find courage he never knew existed.
This book was hard for me to review, because I recently read Patient Zero, and The Dragon Factory, both by Jonathan Maberry, and I absolutely could not put them down. So, perhaps unfairly to this book, I expected more of the same, just toned down for a Young Adult audience. Rot & Ruin took a bit longer for me to get into, but that was ok, because the payoff was worth it! There’s plenty of guts and action to please boy readers, and the characters show much more insight and maturity than many of the YA titles out there right now. There was also plenty to please this girl reader, and there were some heartbreaking moments that really made me love the characters. I wavered between a 4.5 and a 5 on this one, so I’ll give it a 5! I’ll eagerly look forward to the next Benny Imura novel!
I’m so excited to announce my winner for City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore!
Congrats to Amy Harlib!
*Winner was chosen by Rafflecopter, has been notified, and has 48 hours to respond! Thanks to everyone that entered!
The Naming of the Beasts (Felix Castor #5) by Mike Carey
Publisher: Orbit/Jan. 2011
Felix Castor Series
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but if you ask Castor he’ll tell you there’s quite a bit of arrogance and reckless stupidity lining the streets as well. He should know. There are only so many times you can play both sides against the middle and get away with it. Now, the inevitable moment of crisis has arrived and it’s left Castor with blood on his hands. Well, not his hands—it’s always someone else who pays the bill: friends, acquaintances, and bystanders. So Castor drowns his guilt in cheap whiskey, while an innocent woman lies dead and her daughter comatose, his few remaining friends fear for their lives and there’s a demon loose on the streets. It’s not just any demon—this one rides shotgun on his best friend’s soul and can’t be expelled without killing him. It seems that Felix Castor’s got some tough choices to make, because expel the demon he must or all Hell will break loose—literally.
The aftermath of the disastrous events of Thicker Than Water still has Felix Castor reeling. They’ve left his former best friend (possessed by a rather nasty demon) free, and Felix an emotional mess, drowning himself in alcohol and sorrow. After a pretty nasty binge, Felix shakes off his sorrow in an attempt to get a handle on a mess that deep down, he blames himself for; finding Rafi Ditko and freeing him from the demon Asmodeus once and for all. The demon definitely has his own agenda, and after visiting the crime scene of his first victim, Felix knows he must track him down, at all costs. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one working the case. His old nemesis, Dr. Jenna-Jane Mulbridge, is also on his trail, not to mention the Anathemata, who was the cause of the massive mess that set Rafi free. To add to the considerable stress of finding Rafi, Juliet, Fix’s sometimes partner and incidentally, also a succubus demon, is acting very, very strangely, to the detriment of her wife, Sue. It’s getting worse all the time and Fix is at a total loss as to how he can help, but he’s determined to do what he can. Eventually, he’ll have to seek the help of Jenna-Jane and her crew, which now includes Trudie Pax, a former Anathemata member, and also the nephew of a man that was killed during an exorcism gone wrong, and he blames Fix for his death. You can imagine that things are a bit strained, but Fix will need everything at his disposal to find Rafi and get rid of Asmodeus for good, before he kills everyone Fix loves, and then heads after Fix himself.
The Naming of the Beasts is the 5th book in the Felix Castor series, and it’s just as good as the previous four. No one writes like Mike Carey. He has created an alternate London full of ghosts, zombies (not of the brain eating kind), loup-garous, demons, and other supernaturals that lovers of urban fantasy and noir will want to visit again and again. Fix is tough and smart, but certainly not superhuman, and it’s his rumpled charm that will get you every time (at least it does me). We get to wrap up a huge storyline in this one, with explosive results, but I have no doubt that Mike Carey has plenty more in store for Fix and his friends. There are endless possibilities with this series, and I hope Mr. Carey keeps Fix’s world alive for some time to come. If you like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, or Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novels, you’ll want to dive into this one head first. Superb writing, fascinating characters, and a haunted London steeped in history make these books a must! Very highly recommended.