My Bookish Ways

Review (& Giveaway): The Weird Girls (A Novella) by Cecy Robson

The Weird Girls (A Novella) by Cecy Robson
Signet/Dec. 4th, 2012
Urban Fantasy
Kind thanks to Signet and Cecy Robson for providing a review copy

Celia Wird and her three sisters are just like other 20-something girls—with one tiny exception: they’re products of a backfired curse that has given each of them unique powers that make them, well, a little weird…

The Wird sisters are different from every race on earth—human and supernatural. When human society is no longer an option for them, they move in among the resident vampires, werebeasts, and witches of the Lake Tahoe region. Could this be the true home they’ve longed for? Um, not quite. After the sisters accidentally strip a witch of her powers in a bar brawl, they soon realize the mistake will cost them. Because to take on a witch means to take on her coven. And losing the battle isn’t an option.

The Wird Sisters; Emma, Shayna, Taran, and Celia, have been traveling the states as visiting nurses and after discovering the beauty of the Lake Tahoe area have decided to make it their more permanent home. As they celebrate at a local club, the plans to have a few drinks and maybe even a few dances with the table full of cute guys nearby is blown out of the water when they’re attacked by a witch bent on destruction. Actually, destruction might be a mild way to describe it, considering it involves flinging lightning and a horde of rats. It’s definitely an original way to clear a dance floor. At first, Celia is livid when she finds out Taran started the fight, but soon cools when she finds out that Taran was defending the timid Emme. They’ve been taunted and teased all of their lives, since their parents were killed when Celia was only 9 (and the oldest.) Their wicked aunt cast a spell on their mom for marrying outside her race, and not only did it shorten their parents’ lives, it backfired, and instead of making the girls sickly and frail, as was intended, it made them very, very special, unlike any others on Earth. So much for the Wird sisters settling down and getting their bearings! They’ve ticked off a witch, so now they’ll have her entire coven on their backs. There’s to be a duel: three days, three challenges, and she doubts these witches will play fair. Is Celia up to the challenge? If she’s not, so much for settling down in lovely Lake Tahoe…

This introduction to Cecy Robson’s new series was just plain fun and gives a really good introduction to the girls’ powers, collectively and individually, with a focus on Celia, and as “head of the family”,  she’s had to take care of her sisters since their parents died, and is a very strong narrative voice. She’s funny too, and is a good balance of strength and easy humor. The Wird girls don’t fit any one definition of supernatural. They each have varying powers and varying personalities. Celia is a labor and delivery nurse (each of the girls are nurses in different disciplines), and she’s constantly warring with her nurturing side and her more…animal side, and in spite of her strength, is very self-conscious about her otherness, although she will defend her sisters, and herself, tooth and nail…and then some. This was a strong introduction to what promises to be a great urban fantasy series. I’m getting hard to please when it comes to urban fantasy lately, but this hit all the write notes for me.

Pre-order The Weird Girls (novella):Amazon |B&N 


***Wanna win some great WEIRD GIRLS SWAG?***

Giveaway includes lip balm, magnet, and water bottle!
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*Giveaway ends 10/30

About Cecy Robson:
Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is a full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest. She attributes her passion for story-telling back to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Her dad unwittingly encouraged Cecy’s creativity by kissing her goodnight wearing vampire fangs. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing her first urban fantasy series, Weird Girls, in May 2009.
Keep up with Cecy: Website | Twitter

Bram Stoker Awards Spotlight Interview: Lisa Morton

As part of my Scare-a-Thon series of interviews, I’d like to welcome 4-time Bram Stoker Award winner Lisa Morton! She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions (and talk about her new book!), and I’m thrilled to have her on the blog!

Lisa, you’re a four-time Bram Stoker Award winning author (The Castle of Los Angeles, and more), editor, and playwright! Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about your journey?
I have always wanted to be a writer – I had my first piece (a poem about my turtle) published when I was in kindergarten. In college I studied to be a screenwriter, and I wasted – er, I mean, spent – about fifteen years on screenwriting before really taking the prose plunge.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
As a kid I grew up reading classics and genre works, and my early favorite authors include Theodore Sturgeon, Ursula K. LeGuin and Harlan Ellison. Later on, I discovered Philip K. Dick and Dennis Etchison.

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Probably Dick’s Ubik, which amazes me every time I re-read it.

What do you like to see in a good book?
Aside from the obvious answers – good plotting and characters, real emotional investment – presentation is also important to me. I will put a book aside quickly if it’s full of grammatical errors, typos, punctuation problems, or even bad layout.

In your editing work, what do you look for when putting together an anthology?
Okay, this will sounds either obvious or smarmy, but here it is: FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES. If it’s a themed anthology, don’t submit something that is not apropos to the theme. It always amazes me that we have to say things like this, but we do. Beyond that, here are a couple of things I’ve seen over and over in slush piles: 1) Don’t start your story by giving me pages of background on the lead character; 2) be aware of clichés and avoid them; and 3) don’t pad your story out with information I don’t need to know. It’s enough to know, for example, that your character ate dinner; I don’t need to know where they bought the food, that they thought it needed more salt, how long it took to eat, their rituals for washing dishes, etc.

Halloween is right around the corner, and you’re known as a Halloween authority! What do you love most about it?
That’s hard to say, because I love it all! I love the crazy merchandising, I love the colors and tastes, I love the way people decorate their yards, I love all the talk about horror and history.

What do you find truly scary?
I’m fortunately not a person who suffers from phobias, but there are plenty of other things I find disturbing on a daily basis, and I wish more horror writers would address sociopolitical issues in their work. I’ve written about sexism and gender politics, racism, homophobia, abortion, poverty, institutionalization, extreme politics, pollution, child abuse, and (a theme that really obsesses me) the responsibilities of the artist.

You have a brand new book coming out soon, Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. Will you tell us a bit about it?
It’s my first narrative history of Halloween (meaning it’s not an encyclopedic reference or a collection of source documents), and it’s the first Halloween book that looks at the festival on both a historical and a contemporary global scale. My publisher, Reaktion Books, really urged me to examine the recent global explosion of the holiday’s popularity, and I’m glad they did, because much of what I discovered surprised even me! Over just the last few years, Halloween has taken off in areas like Great Britain, South Africa, even China and Ukraine. I also got to put forward a few of my theories regarding the holiday’s origins in this book, which is something you can’t really do in a straightforward encyclopedic reference. I talk at length, for example, about an eighteenth-century British surveyor named Charles Vallancey who I believe set up many of the mistaken notions of Halloween that have filtered down to modern times.

How do you celebrate Halloween?
My partner Ricky and I have a clear agenda: We love to pass out candy to trick or treaters for a while, then take off and visit our favorite haunted attractions and yard displays. Being the home of the entertainment industry, we get some of the most astonishing home Halloween shows in the L.A. area – they involve everything from projected animations to audioanimatronic figures and “Haunted Mansion”-style ghost effects. It’s like supernatural performance art in the front yard!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events?
I’m pleased to be part of an exciting project from JournalStone called “Double Down”, that pairs established writers with up-and-coming talents to produce matched novellas; my novella will share page space with oneDavid Konow signing Reel Terror: The Scary, Bloody, Gory, Hundred-Year History of Classic Horror Films (TPB 18.99) on Sat, Oct 27th 11 to 1 pm at Son of Monsterpalooza by Eric Guignard, a wonderfully talented and hard-working SoCal writer who I think will really impress everyone. Any chance to help new writers is always gratifying to me. And I will make an unequivocal promise here: I will have another novel out in 2013.
Keep up with Lisa: Website
Purchase Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween: Amazon | B&N

Scare-a-Thon Review (& Giveaway): Trucker Ghost Stories edited by Annie Wilder

Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road edited by Annie Wilder
Tor/August 2012

In a uniquely entertaining book by a rising star, here are uncanny true tales of haunted highways, weird encounters, and legends of the road.

It may have happened to you; it’s happened to almost everyone who’s ever driven down a highway at night, or in the fog, or snow. Something suddenly appears: a flash of movement, a shadow…what was it? It could be, as the true stories in this book attest, a ghost.

These are true stories from the highways and byways of America. These firsthand accounts are as varied as the storytellers themselves—some are detailed and filled with the terror and suspense that made people feel they had to share what happened to them with others; others are brief and straightforward retellings of truly chilling events.

Here is a chupacabra attack on the desert highway between L.A. and Las Vegas; ghost trains and soldiers; UFOs; the prom girl ghost of Alabama; a demon in Texas, and other accounts of the creepy, scary things that truckers and other drivers and passengers told to editor Annie Wilder.

With so many different stories, Trucker Ghost Stories moves beyond the usual haunted house to offer stories to entice any ghost story reader…and anyone who’s ever wondered….

Most of us have at least one family member that tells really good ghost stories. For me, it was my paternal grandmother. I think she maybe had all of five in her arsenal, but my 9 year old self didn’t care, and I probably heard each of them 20 times, at least. I loved all things ghost (still do), and when she told those stories, she had my full attention. As I matured, so did my level of ghost story sophistication, and even though I’m somewhat of a skeptic (I want to believe!!), there is, and always will be something about classic ghost stories, and especially those involving a long, dark, creepy stretch of night road. To this end, Trucker Ghost Stories is a pretty varied collection focusing on eerie happenings by truckers, obviously, however, if it has wheels, it’s also fair game here. Some are very short, and others are a bit longer, but all of them are pretty creepy. The editor, Annie Wilder, has plenty of ghostly experience, and she’s put it to fun use with this collection. Some of the highlights, for me, included “Skinwalker in Arizona”, which features a creature that scares the pants off of a half Hopi half Navajo little boy, enough that he remembers it years later; “UFO Encounter in Wyoming/US Highway 26” about a man that witnesses something very unusual happen to a fellow trucker; and “The Man in the Rain” about a woman who receives some ghostly assistance when she breaks down on the side of the road.

In Trucker Ghost Stories, Annie Wilder has compiled more than 60 stories of eerie happenings, and each is told in a unique voice, and also covers a pretty wide range of territory, from the deep south to clear across the world. Some will give you chills, others might even make you smile, and you’ll find yourself wanting to read just one more. Whether you are a true believer or a skeptic, Trucker Ghost Stories is the perfect way to fill a spooky October afternoon, and will certainly get you in the mood for Halloween!

Purchase Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road: Amazon |B&N | Indiebound

1. You MUST fill out the form below
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Trucker Ghost Stories ed. by Annie Wilder to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses only (No PO Boxes)
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 10/29/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of Tor
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Interview (& Giveaway): DJ McIntosh, author of The Witch of Babylon

Please welcome DJ McIntosh to the blog! DJ is the author of the historical thriller, The Witch of Babylon, which just came out! She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and we’ve got a copy of the book up for grabs, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!

Your first novel, The Witch of Babylon, just came out in the US this week! Will you tell us a bit about it?
An original engraving of The Book of Nahum, seventh book of the twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament, has been looted from the Baghdad Museum at the outset of the Iraq War. A childhood friend lures John Madison into a deadly game, daring him to find the engraving. As his quest deepens, Madison learns the engraving leads to a shocking revelation about the origins of alchemy, an ancient treasure cache and the truth behind a famous story the world believes is just a myth.

Did you always want to be a writer? Will you tell us about your journey?
I always wanted to be a writer but it took a long time with lots of detours on the way. Although armed with a university degree, English major, my first career was as a city planner. After my daughter was grown, I left city planning and went back to my first love – writing.

I spent those first years networking with other authors, and joining organizations like Sisters in Crime. After hearing much doom and gloom about slush piles I decided to short circuit that and entered the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger competition. It was truly a euphoric moment when I learned The Witch of Babylon was chosen as a finalist. I got an agent soon after that and in 2009 Penguin Canada bought the first rights. We then went on to sell the book to nineteen other countries – and just last summer it made the national bestseller’s list in Canada. It’s been an amazing ride!

Mesopotamian history and culture were big influences in writing The Witch of Babylon. What was one of the most fascinating things you discovered during your research?
Great question! I learned about so many fascinating features from that historical period but one of them would be discovering that Mesopotamians developed a rudimentary battery, possibly used to electroplate gold, more than a millennium before the modern battery was invented. This is just one of their great achievements. The Baghdad Batteries, as they came to be known, were stolen from the National Museum of Iraq in 2003 and have not yet been recovered.

How long did The Witch of Babylon take to write, from start to finish?
A little over eight years including all the research. This didn’t involve writing every day by any means rather, I wrote and researched in junks of a couple of months at a time.

What are some of your literary influences?
Hundreds of them sit on my bookshelves. My best teachers have been other writers and having spent so much time writing technical reports, it took ages to get that out of my system. A few of the writers who I could not hope to emulate but learned a great deal from were: Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces), Dennis Lehane (A Drink Before the War), Stephen King (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), Arturo Perez Reverte (The Club Dumas), Frank Herbert (Dune).

What are you reading now?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

What makes you want to set aside a book in frustration?
A weak plot, where I can easily guess the ending. Conversely, a great writing style usually reels me in. Huge credibility gaps are non-starters too.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Lord of the Rings

If you could pick the guest list for your perfect dinner party (among people alive or dead), who would you invite?
Well it would be dinner for eight not at eight. Edgar Allen Poe, Cornell Woolrich, Emily Bronte, H.P. Lovecraft, Susan Hill. Then I’d invite John Cleese just to lighten things up and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to sort out the inevitable mayhem.

If I was to visit you in Toronto for the first time, where would you take me?
One of Toronto’s highlights are its multi-cultural neighbourhoods. Great shopping and fantastic family run restaurants with menus that come from all corners of the world. Little India, Greektown, Chinatown and Little Italy are some of my favorites.

I read that a couple of your favorite things are museums and live music. What’s a favorite museum you’ve visited and which bands do you go out of your way to see?
I’ve spent many happy hours in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum’s Assyrian antiquity collection is unsurpassed. In both cases, the setting and architecture are inspiring too. While not strictly a museum, wandering through Central Park with its wonderful art work, sculptures, gates and bridges is always a high point of my visits to New York.

I’d go out of my way to see: Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, the Tran Siberian Orchestra, Coldplay, and Alanis Morissette.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events?
The next in the series – The Book of Stolen Tales – is on its way and will be published in late spring of 2013. In this, John Madison hunts for a rare 17th century book – the first European anthology of fairy tales. The dark origins of these tales come to life as Madison is captivated by a beautiful but abused young woman and threatened by a man who seems more phantom than real. His search ends at the Mesopotamian underworld, a real archaeological site.
Thanks so much for the interview – it was fun!
Keep up with DJ: Website | Twitter

1. You MUST fill out the form below
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of The Witch of Babylon by DJ McIntosh to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses only (No PO Boxes)
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 10/29/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of Tor
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Scare-a-Thon Top 5: Will Hill, author of The Rising

Today I’ve got another great Halloween Top 5 (Movies!) today from Will Hill, author of Department 19 and The Rising!


This was the film that gave birth to the slasher genre, but don’t hold that against it – it’s far, far better than any of the movies that followed it.

Made for a tiny budget, John Carpenter co-wrote, directed and composed the music for what became one of the most successful independent films of all time, and is still one of the scariest horror movies ever made – the killer, Michael Myers (clad in a distorted Captain Kirk mask!), is the original silent, unstoppable monster, hunting down teenagers on Halloween night in a small Illinois town. The opening first-person sequence is (rightly) legendary, and Carpenter delivers shock upon shock as night falls and the body count starts to rise…

Donald Pleasance stars as the doctor trying to stop the carnage his former patient is unleashing, and then-unknown Jamie Lee Curtis is the babysitter just trying to survive. If the hair on your arms doesn’t stand up every time the piano theme starts to play, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

THE OMEN (1976)

There’s something fundamentally scary about biblical evil, about age-old prophecies coming true in modern, supposedly rational times, and The Omen taps into the oldest and scariest of them all – the rise of the antichrist.

Diplomat Gregory Peck’s son dies shortly after being born in a Roman hospital, and he is persuaded to take the son of a woman who died in childbirth at the same time, without telling his wife (Lee Remick). They call the boy Damien, and take him to England after Peck is made a US Ambassador. Then all hell breaks loose – suicides, satanic hounds, terrible warnings from a local priest, miscarriages, ‘accidents,’ and eventually murder, as it becomes clear exactly what Damien is, and what his father must do.

Richard Donner makes full use of the ultra-creepy setup, piling eye-opening deaths on top of creeping paranoia, and never allows anything to become unambiguous, right down to the very last, famously unsettling shot. Classic.


The Omen is a subtle, slow building horror, reliant on atmosphere and implication, as is Halloween, to a certain extent. The Evil Dead II is really, really not. It is flat-out, balls-to-the-wall crazy. And it’s absolutely brilliant.

It’s not really even a sequel – it’s a reboot of Sam Raimi’s micro-budget original from six years earlier, with the gore and splatter and laughs turned up to eleven. Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend head to an abandoned cabin in the woods and play a tape of an archaeology professor reading passages from the Necronomicon, an ancient book of the dead that unleashes a monstrous evil force capable of taking over human beings. And that’s when the fun begins – decapitations, possessed hands attacking their owners, lustful tree vines, chainsaws used as body parts, and a giant swirling portal that leads to the film’s fantastic final gag, are all rendered in Raimi’s textbook hyper-kinetic style, as likely to make you cry with laughter as gag with disgust.


Brutal. Punishing. Relentless. All words that accurately describe this Australian outback ordeal, although none are sufficient to do it justice.

Made for an estimated $1,000,000 and featuring a cast of unknowns, Greg McLean’s debut claims to be based on real life events (notably the Ivan Millat murders and the Peter Falconio case) and is all the more horrifying for it. Three teenagers drive out to a vast meteorite crater in the Australian desert, only to find their watches have stopped and their car will no longer start. A loud, friendly man called Mick appears, tows them and their car to his camp, an abandoned mine, fixes their car and gives them a drink around his campfire. When they wake up, they find themselves in the middle of a nightmare.

You won’t thank me for anything I tell you about the rest of this one, just as you probably won’t thank me for recommending it at all – it’s a hard, vicious film, and if you like a happy ending you’re in the wrong place. But if you think you can take it…


There is very little new to say about this, William Friedkin’s classic shocker that has passed almost whole into the popular cultural consciousness. You probably know that many of the cast believed the production was cursed, that sets burned down for no reason and that priests were brought in to bless the studio several times. And you probably know most of the film’s iconic moments – the green vomit, the spinning head, the crucifix, the shocking fall down those Georgetown steps.

But if you’ve never seen the whole film, or not seen it for a while, what you may not realise is how slow and methodical it truly is, how it creates an atmosphere of such paranoia and terror that the big shocks fit perfectly into the story. Max Von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller and Linda Blair do great work, keeping the film about a family confronting a horror they can’t believe and the men who try to come to their aid, and making it deeply frightening, and upsetting, to this day.
Keep up with Will: Website | Twitter

About Department 19:
amie Carpenter’s life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein’s monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.
Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond—from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it’s packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

About The Rising:
James Bond meets Dracula in this epic saga of one boy and a ton of weapons versus the world’s oldest evil—vampires as you’ve never seen them before!

Sixteen-year-old Jamie Carpenter’s life was violently upended when he was brought into Department 19, a classified government agency of vampire hunters that was formed to deal with a little problem . . . known as Dracula.

But being the new recruit at the Department isn’t all weapons training and covert missions. Jamie’s own mother has been turned into a vampire—and now Jamie will stop at nothing to wreak revenge on her captors. Even if that means facing down Dracula himself.
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Interview (& Giveaway): Max Gladstone, author of Three Parts Dead

Please welcome Max Gladstone to the blog! Max is the author of Three Parts Dead, just out, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, and some other stuff too!

Also, there’s a copy of Three Parts Dead up for grabs, so be sure to check the details at the bottom of the post!

You only give us a few tidbits about yourself on your site (Yale grad, studied Chinese!), so tell us more! Did you always want to be a writer?
My parents say that one day, when I was two or three, they found me in the living room scrawling in a notebook they’d left lying around—chicken scratch, I didn’t even know how to read then. But the ‘writing’ stayed within the lines!

Who knows: if it hadn’t, maybe I’d be an artist now.

Beyond that: I moved around a lot when I was a kid, and on the summers we’d take these big long trips across country, camping out of our van. I wrote my first book when I was seventeen. I went to Yale, studied Chinese, sang in a choir where I met the woman I married. After school, I went to southern China where I taught English in Anhui province for two years, wrote a few more books, returned to the states, spent a year writing and doing odd jobs before I found work in a marketing / research firm in south Boston. I worked in the day, wrote at night, and now I’m here!

Will you tell us a little bit about your new book, Three Parts Dead?
Three Parts Dead is the story of Tara, a first year associate in an international necromancy firm, who’s been hired to help resurrect a dead fire god named Kos. Kos’s death has put his city in danger—without god to fire the furnaces, how will people keep warm in the winter? How will the city generate power? Tara’s working against time and her own prejudices (she doesn’t have a great deal of affection for gods) to save the city. And, as she works, she learns that the city’s current troubles stretch back to religious conflicts in the God Wars, which tore the world apart decades ago.

What are some of your biggest influences (literary or otherwise)?
Roger Zelazny and Terry Pratchett are both huge influences—they have marvelous gifts for language, for using humor while remaining sincere, and for building worlds via context and conversation. I also take a lot of inspiration from musicians—songwriters have many of the same challenges as novelists, but even more constraints. Bob Dylan’s ballads (Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts, Black Diamond Bay, Isis, All Along the Watchtower songs like that) create vivid moral worlds with immense contrasts of character, all in the space of a few minutes. Other bands & groups that spring to mind: A3, Tom Waits, Josh Ritter, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer.

If someone asked for you to recommend one book to them, what would it be?
Depends on who they were. Genre-friendly? Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light. Not so much? East of Eden, or maybe The Last Samurai.

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles are an intense surprise when you read them for the first time. They do improve with re-readings, but I’d love to recapture the sheer joy of the first read-through.

What are you reading now?
A comic book about Neitzsche, and Dan Simmons’ Carrion Comfort. I just finished The Quantum Thief, by Hanu Rajaniemi, which impressed the hell out of me.

Will you tell us about your travels? What’s your favorite destination so far, and why?
When I finally get to Russia and Spain I’ll be able to trace a line around the world touching only countries I’ve visited. When I was a kid our family backpacked through eastern Europe for eight weeks, which started the travel bug for me. I wanted to learn all of the languages, and I started with Chinese only to discover that one does not simply ‘learn’ Chinese. Still, language study and work brought me to China several times throughout college and after; China’s also a nice home base for travel in that part of the world, so I got to SE Asia, Japan, Mongolia.

I loved the two weeks I spent in Mongolia. I don’t know how much of that came from my being on an adventure with two of my best friends, and how much came from Mongolia itself, but that trip shines gold in memory. We had an amazing ten day horse trek with Stepperiders, camping, galloping, eating goat, learning to wrestle.

If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow (that you haven’t yet been to), where would you go?
South America, probably. Peru, or Argentina. Hard to decide?

When you manage to get some downtime, how do you like to spend it?
Downtime? What’s that? If I had any, I’d spend it fencing, reading, or hanging out with friends.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events?
Yes! Lots of excitement in the works. My next novel, Two Serpents Rise, is due out from Tor next summer, and we’re working on two more books now. Other secret projects are developing more slowly, as I’ve had to focus on promoting Three Parts Dead this month, but I should have more news soon.
Keep up with Max: Website | Twitter

1. You MUST fill out the form below
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses only (No PO Boxes)
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 10/27/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of Tor
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Scare-a-Thon Q&A (& Giveaway): Jesse Petersen, author of the Living With the Dead Series

I’m always thrilled to catch up with Jesse Petersen, author of the Living With the Dead series (and more), and she was kind enough to let me grill her for the Scare-a-Thon event.

We also have a Kindle copy of In the Dead: Volume 1 to give away, but if you don’t have a Kindle, I’ve got a shiny new copy of Married With Zombies (Living With the Dead #1) to give away, so be sure to see details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Jesse back to the blog!

Jesse, I’m so happy to have you back on the blog! Can you catch us up a bit on what you’ve been up to? I heard you have new book coming out in January called The Zombie Whisperer. Will you tell us a bit more about that?
I’m so excited to be here again! Thanks for asking me. The Zombie Whisperer is the 4th (and probably final) book in the Dave and Sarah series (Living With the Dead series) that started with MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES. In it, Dave and Sarah are trying to live a quiet life in Montana when everything falls apart, they’re asked to save the world again and they have to decide what their future should look like. Look for fun, zombie hijinks and the usual “self-help advice” chapter headers. Right now I’m shooting for January release (I’ll be self-publishing), but it may not be until February. I’m getting that finalized right now. Early 2013, though, for sure! Before CLUB MONSTROSITY is out.

Speaking of Club Monstrosity… Care to dish?
Absolutely! This book starts a new series for me about a group of monsters who live in New York City. Their stories have been co-opted and twisted by authors and moviemakers for hundreds of years, and now they just want to be left alone. Be normal. They meet once a week in the basement of a church in a support group. But when they start getting killed off one by one, the same way they have in their various stories, they have to figure out who is doing it and if they want to be monsters after all. If you liked the dark, sarcastic humor of MARRIED WITH ZOMBIES, there’s a lot of that in this series, too. My main character is Natalie, a Frankenstein’s Monster (or Creature) and my hero is a Wolf Man named Alec. There are mummies and swamp dwellers and vampires and it was sooooo fun to write.

Obviously, you like zombies (Living With the Dead Series, In the Dead), but what other creepies do you like?
I love scary stuff, maybe because as an imaginative child they gave me nightmares and I wasn’t given permission to watch them. I find that I like psychological thrillers more than monsters when I want a scare. I’m sort of an Investigation Discovery channel junkie. Lots of people killing people they know and it’s awful and I can’t look away. The idea that you’d know someone, love someone, and one day they’d do something so heinous is just… bad.
As far as creepy stuff in fiction, I love the weeping angels in Dr. Who. They are terrifying. What a wonderful idea!! Wish I’d had it…

What are some of your favorite scary reads?
I’m a fan of Stephen King, especially THE SHINING and THE STAND.

How about movies?
28 Days Later, Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, Paranormal Activity, The Crazies (remake 2010), Silence of the Lambs… there are a lot.

Does your family do anything special for Halloween?
We don’t have kids, so we don’t really have a lot of Halloween traditions. We sometimes go to a party, we give out candy, we watch horror movies. It’s pretty low key. I do love Halloween in theory, but it’s gotten so expensive to get a great costume and all the ones for women are kind of… um… whore-ish. It’s too bad women can’t be just a fairy, not a slutty fairy. Or just a cop, not a slutty cop. Eh, I just want to dress us, not have to figure out how to cover up my butt in a super-short costume… I’m apparently getting too old for this.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’m just so excited about all my upcoming projects. I hope readers that have enjoyed my previous works will come and check out the new books. Oh, and I just redesigned my website, a total overhaul on the look, so please stop by and take a peek!
Keep up with Jesse: Website | Twitter

1. Leave a comment on the post with your preference (In the Dead for KINDLE, or if you don’t have a Kindle, Married With Zombies)
2. Make sure you leave your email address when you fill out the comment form (no need to leave it in the body of the comment if you do this)
3. Giveaway is open US Only (for both books)
4. Giveaway ENDS 10/27/12

About In the Dead:
When the Zombie Apocalypse began in Seattle and spread within days to almost the entire western half the country, the survivors had to figure out how to deal with the plague and live one day at a time. These are their stories.

If you liked Jesse Petersen’s zombie comedies Married With Zombies, Flip This Zombie and Eat Slay Love, these nine stories are set in the same world, but from the perspective of other survivors.

About Married With Zombies:
A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

Meet Sarah and David.

Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they’re on the verge of divorce and going to couples’ counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things – the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client’s throat.

Meet the Zombies.

Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn’t mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don’t eat their brains, they might just kill each other.

About Jesse Petersen (via her website):
Jesse’s life as a writer began when her husband made the brilliant observation that she was much happier writing than doing anything else. So she took the plunge and decided to do that full-time. After many years and many books in different sub-genres, she was bitten by the zombie bug (not a zombie, but the bug) and took off on a zany adventure into the world of Urban Fantasy. Soon zombies were not enough and now she is poised to take over the world with her not-so-normal paranormal stories which inject dark humor into uncommon circumstances.

When not coming up with stories about the weird and wonderful she lives in Tucson, AZ, with her high school sweetheart husband and two cats. She plays video games, hangs out with her favorite nephews, hikes in the beautiful mountains, watches wayyyyy too much reality TV (and some really good scripted TV), ponders all things geekish and madly scribbles notes on her next idea while she laughs at people who still have to shovel snow.

Oh and from time to time she even writes, which is still what she likes to do best. She loves chatting with fans of her stories and lovers of geeky things.

Scare-a-Thon Interview (& Giveaway): Tim Lebbon, author of London Eye

I’m thrilled to have Tim Lebbon on the blog today! Tim is a prolific writer and he’s got 3 books out this month, including London Eye, from PYR, his first solo YA. Tim took some time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few of my questions, and we’ve got a copy of London Eye up for grabs, so be sure to check the details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Tim to the blog!

You finished your first story at nine years old, and over 30 books, and a Bram Stoker win (and more than few noms) later, here we are! Also, you have THREE new books out this month, Coldbrook, London Eye (first solo YA), and Nothing As It Seems. Will you tell us a bit about your new releases?
Sure. COLDBROOK is published by Hammer/Arrow in the UK, and is a huge apocalyptic zombie thriller, in which not just this world is under threat… I think it’s one of the best books I’ve written, and as I so love apocalyptic fiction, this is my version of it.

LONDON EYE (book one in the Toxic City trilogy) is set in a near-future UK where London has been hit by a massive terrorist biological/chemical strike. The city is closed off now, supposedly toxic and uninhabitable. But there are survivors … and they’re changing.

NOTHING AS IT SEEMS collects my best short fiction and novellas from the past few years. It’s my sixth collection, and I think my most accomplished to date. It includes the hard to find ‘The Reach of Children’.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
Willard Price from when I was a kid, who taught me to love adventure novels. Stephen King, because he’s one of the finest storytellers we have, and his characterisation is beautiful. Arthur Machen, whose interest in the shady link between humanity and the natural world reflects my own… and many, many more.

How about a few of your all-time favorite books?

  • The Stand – King
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
  • The Hill of Dreams – Machen
  • The Terror – Dan Simmons
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • Consider Phlebus – Iain M Banks

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
The Stand, without a doubt. Probably the single book that has influenced me more than any other.

You’re well known for writing the scaries. What do you find truly frightening?
The dark … (product of a wild imagination, I guess), losing loved ones, fundamentalism, unfairness.

When it comes to horror, what do you consider off limits? Is there anything that turns you off personally when reading horror?
Well, I read all kinds of horror, but I prefer horror that goes for the heart, not the stomach. Books that describe how to dismantle a victim in grisly detail don’t really do it for me. Books that examine the mentality of someone who’d choose to dismantle a victim do.

If you could sit down to dinner with 5 people (living or dead), who would they be?
Chrissie Wellington — Ironman World Champion
Bill Hicks — the American comedian who spoke his mind.
Phil Lynott — Thin Lizzy’s lead singer
Jane Tomlinson — an amazing woman who, suffering from terminal cancer and given 6 months to live, then spent seven years running marathons, Ironman races, and other staggering endurance achievements to raise almost £2M for charity.
Eddie Izzard — a comedian of the surreal and sublime

You were born in London, but now live in the Welsh countryside. What do you love most about living there, and where would you take a first time visitor?
I spent my childhood in the Devonshire countryside, and although I then lived in a city for 20 years in South Wales, I was always a country boy at heart. That’s why I love where we live right now … a 3 minute walk in any direction and I’m out of the village and into the beautiful countryside. I went for a 7 mile run yesterday and ran through three woodlands, along a canal bank, and across fields. It’s beautiful. And as I’m heavily into outdoor pursuits (walking, running, cycling) I live in the perfect place. I’d take a first time visitor to the Blorenge, a mountain just a few miles from where I love and one of my very favourite places.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
Upcoming books include the new Star Wars novel I’ve just written, set in the Dawn of the Jedi era and called INTO THE VOID. That’s out next May. Also the second and third books in the TOXIC CITY trilogy will be out next year. And hopefully a few other surprises coming soon, too.
Keep up with Tim: Website

1. You MUST fill out the form below
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of London Eye by Tim Lebbon to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only (No PO Boxes)
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 10/27/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of PYR
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Review (& Giveaway): Year Zero by Rob Reid

Year Zero by Rob Reid
DelRey/July 2012

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

Soon he’s on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

“Aliens suck at music.” So begins Rob Reid’s Year Zero. Nick Carter (not of the Backstreet Boys), is an entertainment lawyer who gets the office visit of a lifetime from two alien beings, Carly and Frampton. Of course the voluptuous, smart Carly intrigues Nick immediately, but they’re not on Earth for extra-curricular activities. They’re here to deal. See, the Refined League, a confederation of brilliant alien societies made the decision that humanity would never make the cut. We’d just never achieve Refined status. However, after distant anthropologists happened upon an episode of Welcome Back Kotter, their initial assessment of us being a bunch of idiots changed once the end credits started and the theme music began. Yep, the theme from Welcome Back, Kotter convinced these superior beings that they had found most wondrous thing in the universe, in the form of human music (called the “Kotter Moment.) Decades later, after sampling every single song in the human playbook, they made a startling realization: they owe us a huge amount of money. Seriously, huge, and Nick must find away to make a deal since it’s starting to look like the actual planet may be in danger. So, Nick sets out with Carly and Frampton on an interstellar trip to settle up and possibly save the Earth.

Year Zero is told in Nick’s voice and while there’s plenty of adventure to be had here, it’s his observations of the many weird, wild alien life forms and environments that make this book such a blast. Usually I groan when I see footnotes in a book, but once I got into the swing of reading them (I’ll admit, I’m bad at ignoring footnotes, but you won’t want to ignore these), more times than not they made me laugh out loud and were always entertaining. Carly and Frampton are pretty jaded aliens and Nick’s absolute wonder at their spectacular world and technology is endlessly amusing to them. Rob Reid has a knack for setting up a scene and mining it for maximum laughs, and walking the line between so ridiculous it’s rather awesome and just plain ridiculous is tough, but he manages to do it, to fine effect. Music licensing is a serious (and lucrative) business, but serious really doesn’t factor into the equation here, and this razor sharp satire manages to make it fun (and actually kind of informative.) Inevitable comparisons will be made to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and that’s a good thing, but Year Zero is a romp all its own.

Nick is an affable hero who thinks on his feet and Carly and Frampton are brilliant, funny, and awesomely weird. Don’t forget the talking parrot, pluhhhs (not THE pluhhhs), various other gooey, slimy, space things, Purfuffinites, and Wrinkles (the main mode of travel for Carly and Frampton), and plenty of pop culture references. So, can Nick figure out how to help them pay their ginormous music bill, save the world, and get the girl (his lovely neighbor, Manda)? You’ll just have to pick up a copy and find out! I promise you’ll have a helluva time!

Purchase Year Zero: Amazon |B&N | Indiebound

1. You MUST fill out the form below
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Year Zero by Rob Reid to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses only (No PO Boxes)
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 10/27/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of DelRey
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Book News: October 19th, 2012

Here’s my roundup of book news (and other fun stuff) around the web for the week! Sometimes I add stuff throughout the day on Friday, so be sure you check back over the weekend too!

Interviews and more:


Excerpts and such:

Fun stuff (some book-related, some not):

Also, the October Scare-a-Thon is in full swing, so be sure to check out what we’ve got going so far,and keep an eye out for spotlights on more horror authors and Bram Stoker Award winners in the coming days!

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