My Bookish Ways

Giveaway Winners: Archon, Hammered, and A Discovery of Witches

I’ve got 3 giveaway winners to announce today: Archon by Sabrina Benulis, Hammered by Kevin Hearne, and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness! Congrats to the winners!

Archon by Sabrina Benulis

Update as  of 1/12: New winner is Na! (previous winner never responded)

Hammered (Iron Druid #3) (signed) by Kevin Hearne

Congrats to Eric Schwartz!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Congrats to Cherry Vanilla!

*All winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified, and have 48 hours to respond. Thanks to everyone that entered!

Review: The Pleasure of Your Kiss by Teresa Medeiros

The Pleasure of Your Kiss by Teresa Medeiros
Publisher: Pocket Star/Dec. 2011
Historical Romance
4/5
Kind thanks to Pocket Star for the review copy

Legendary adventurer Ashton Burke has roamed the globe for ten years trying to forget the spirited woman he left behind in England. His devil-may-care pursuits are interrupted, though, when he reluctantly agrees to retrieve his brother’s kidnapped fiancée from a sultan’s harem. Too late, he discovers his quarry is none other than Clarinda Cardew, the very same girl who made off with his jaded heart.

The last thing Clarinda wants is to be trapped in a palace of sensual delights with the man whose irresistible kisses still haunt her sleepless nights. She quickly realizes that allowing Ashton to rescue her may put her yearning heart in even greater peril. In a journey both tantalizing and treacherous, Ashton and Clarinda resume the impetuous steps of their dangerous dance only to discover the most seductive pleasure of all may be love itself.

REVIEW
When Clarinda Cardew is kidnapped off a ship by the Corsairs, she’s sure that she and her best friend and companion, Poppy, will be sold as slaves into a fate worse than death. However, they are rescued (after a fashion) by the handsome sultan Farouk, and whisked off to his palace in the desert. Keep in mind, it’s 1834, and women aren’t treated quite the way they are today. Farouk is enchanted by his new English Rose, and affords her all the luxury that his wealth has to offer, but she is essentially his prisoner, even if he calls her his guest. Clarinda is no shrinking violet though, and she realizes that she’ll have to get with the program in order to eventually orchestrate her escape, even if that means being taught the art of sensual delight in service to the sultan. Luckily, her first love, Ashton Burke, is coming to her rescue. If only it weren’t for that pesky engagement to his brother, Max…

The Pleasure of Your Kiss is my very first Regency romance, and in the spirit of trying new things in the new year, especially with books, I was happy to dive in. I’m so glad I did! The author is a pro at sexual tension, and Clarinda and Ash’s back story isn’t as black and white as you’re led to think in the beginning, and this is played to the utmost effect. When Ash’s brother, Max (yeahhh, about that…) hires him to find Clarinda and rescue her from the sultan, Ash doesn’t feel like he can refuse, but he’s terrified to see the girl that broke his heart almost 10 years earlier. Clarinda feels the exact same way about Ash though, and it’s this tension that really keeps you glued to the pages. Well, that’s not the only thing. The Moroccan locale is rich and exotic, and created the perfect backdrop for Clarinda and Ash’s drama. I also really appreciated that Farouk wasn’t made out to be terrible villain that you usually see in these kinds of scenarios. He’s a product of his upbringing (and the pressures of his station), and he genuinely has feelings for Clarinda. However, Clarinda’s best friend Poppy only has eyes for Farouk, and this storyline was great fun for me since I couldn’t help but fall in love with the charming, underappreciated, and romantic Poppy. The Pleasure of Your Kiss also made me laugh, frequently, and that’s always a plus for me. Ms. Medeiros is a pro, and it certainly shows in her writing. Yes, I love my dark fantasy and grey characters, but I’m a romantic at heart, and sometimes I like my happy endings. I found myself grinning like a fool at the end of The Pleasure of Your Kiss, and most of the pleasure is in getting there. This story reminded me a bit of an Indiana Jones movie crossed with Romancing the Stone (with some naughty thrown into the mix-I mean, come on, it takes place in a harem), and I enjoyed it immensely. Confident writing, exotic locations, and characters you can fall in love with mark this as a must read for romance, and adventure fans alike. I’m so happy I gave this one a try!

Purchase The Pleasure of Your Kiss: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Interview (& Giveaway): E.S. Moore, author of To Walk the Night

I’m so thrilled to have E.S. Moore on the blog today! E.S. is the author of the brand new urban fantasy To Walk the Night (out yesterday!!), and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions! Also up for grabs is a copy of To Walk the Night to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome E.S. to the blog!

Your brand new book, To Walk the Night, is the first in a planned urban fantasy series featuring vampire Kat Redding. Did you always want to be a writer? Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
I’ve always wanted to write, but there was a period where I simply didn’t try. I think part of the problem was that I had limited support from people outside my family. And I kept looking at it like it was something I would never achieve. Self-doubt was pretty big in my decision to walk away before ever really trying.

But then in 2006, I read Stephen King’s On Writing, as well as an H.P. Lovecraft anthology, and decided to give it a go again. I hadn’t written anything outside of a school setting for a long time, so I was pretty rusty when I did pick it back up. I piled up the rejections, but could tell I was getting better with each story I worked on.

Then I wrote my first attempt at urban fantasy. It got me my agent, but didn’t get picked up elsewhere. By that time, I was feeling better about my writing and had written a certain vampire book. I sent it to my agent, and as they say, the rest is history.

Can you tell us a little bit about To Walk the Night?
To Walk the Night is about a vampire named Kat Redding who hunts her own kind. She decides to work with a werewolf cult to take down a vampire House that would normally be outside her ability, and things get…complicated.

So, if you like a strong female lead who runs around with guns and swords, then this might very well be the book for you!

Why vampires?
Actually, I have no idea! To tell you the truth, I really didn’t want to write a vampire story, at least an urban fantasy one. It felt like selling out.

But the idea got lodged in my head and I couldn’t get rid of it. I sat down, plotted the entire novel in a few hours, and decided to write it. After the first draft, I tucked it away, thinking I’d never look at it again, but eventually, I felt the urge (thanks to the wife) to pick it back up. Even after polishing it up, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to send it out there.

But I did and here we are.

In the end, I could have tried to write Kat as something else, but it wouldn’t have been true to the character. It is what felt right. It’s who the character wanted to be. I couldn’t change that!

Do you already know how many books you’d like to write in the series, or will you just see where Kat takes you?
To a point, yes. I’d like to write at least seven, but there is room for more. Seven would basically let me tie up everything I’ve written about in the first three books without rushing through it or ignoring something. More than seven would allow me to expand the world a little more, but if I did that, we might be looking at a fifteen book series. I think it will come down to how much everyone likes the books on how far it goes. I’m not going to drag it on needlessly either. When the story is done, it will be done, even if it’s making me money.

So in the end, I’ll see where she wants to take me and what people want to read! I have enough ideas to last a while if necessary and I really hope I get to go out the way I want to.

What’s one of your most unusual writing quirks?
I’d like to think I don’t do anything unusual! I guess I’d have to go with my almost OCD need to write in the same place at the same time every day. If I wake up late or have something to do in the morning, which is my usual writing time, I struggle to write and often give up for the day. I can write at night, but it is rare at the moment because I have to get up early with my son. So, I guess I do follow patterns, which means at about 9:00 in the morning, I’m in the mode, ready to work! Nighttime writing takes place after 10:00 p.m. Anything before and I’d probably play around on the internet instead.

What are some of your favorite authors or books, and are there some that have particularly influenced you?
This is actually a tough one. Some of my favorite authors would be, Kathy Reichs, Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Brian Lumley, and Brandon Sanderson. There are a ton more, but these are the ones that leap right out at me.

As for influences, I’d like to think everything I’ve read have influenced me somewhat. I will say that it was Butcher’s Dresden Files series that got me into urban fantasy the most. When I write horror, it is typically King and Lumley that guide me. And when I shift to more fantasy related stuff, Sanderson, Robert Jordan, and George R.R. Martin are the ones that get me in the right frame of mind.

What are you reading right now?
On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark. After that, I plan on catching up on my Simon R. Green, Kat Richardson, Kim Harrison, and Patricia Briggs. I’ve been falling way behind!

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
It by Stephen King.

In 2006 when I decided to start writing again, I also decided I would read and reread every book I own, including ones my wife bought for herself. Sometimes when I go back and reread one of the books I loved when I was younger, I find that I don’t like it nearly as much the second time around. I haven’t reread It yet, but I fear I might not like it as much this time around. It was one of those books that really got me into reading more mature material, rather than YA or pure fantasy, and I don’t want my memory of it tainted by disliking it now.

When you’re not busy at work on your next novel, how do you like to spend your free time?
I read a lot, obviously. But in non-book related time, I actually like to nerd out and play games. It gets my mind off things. I enjoy everything from card games like Magic the Gathering with friends, to online games, and even sitting down and playing solitaire for a little while. It keeps me from overworking myself and overthinking everything.

Is there any advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Just keep writing. Even when it seems like you are getting nowhere, just sit down and force it out. Don’t try to be perfect right away. Just get the story out and then go back and fix it in later drafts. If you are stuck, move on. Even if you have to put something like {ACTION SCENE HERE} smack dab in the middle of the manuscript just so you can keep writing, do it! Writing isn’t easy and doubt can derail you pretty quickly. Try to push the Doubt Monster away, at least for a little while, and get words on the page. After that, work on it until you can’t possibly make it any better. You’ll do fine!

Is there any news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Tainted Night, Tainted Blood, book two in the Kat Redding series comes out July 3rd and the third book, Blessed by a Demon’s Mark, will be out the following year. I’m hopefully going to be setting up a convention or two for 2012, but have nothing definitive set up yet.
Keep up with E.S.: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

About To Walk the Night:
Kat Redding is the very thing she hunts: a vampire, thirsting for blood, capable of killing any creature unlucky enough to get in her path. The difference is, Kat kills her own kind in order to protect human Purebloods. She’s good at what she does. Good enough to earn the nickname Lady Death – and the enmity of every bloodthirsty being around. But now a vampire, Count, is intent on merging his House with a werewolf cult to create a force of terrifying power. Kat can’t allow that to happen. Even if it means taking on a den of weres and a vampire more ruthless than any she’s encountered before. She has the weapons, the skill, and a few allies. But that may not be enough to eliminate the Count before her own dark nature rises to the surface – and costs her whatever is left of her humanity.

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You must fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!).
2. Giveaway is for 1  copy of To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 1/10/12
6. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Giveaway book kindly provided by Kensington.

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Review: Silver-Tongued Devil (Sabina Kane #4) by Jaye Wells

Silver-Tongued Devil (Sabina Kane #4) by Jaye Wells
Publisher:Orbit/Dec. 2011
Urban Fantasy
Sabina Kane Series
5/5
Kind thanks to Orbit for the review copy

Now that the threat of war has passed, Sabina Kane is ready to focus on the future. Her relationship with Adam Lazarus is getting stronger and she’s helping her sister, Maisie, overcome the trauma of her captivity in New Orleans. Even Giguhl is managing to stay out of trouble thanks to the arrival of Pussy Willow and his new roller derby team. But as much as Sabina wants to feel hopeful about the future, part of her doesn’t believe that peace is possible.

Her suspicions are confirmed when a string of sadistic murders threatens to stall treaty negotiations between the mages and the vampires. Sabina pitches in to find the killer, but her investigation soon leads her down dark paths that have her questioning everyone she thought she could trust. And the closer she gets to the killer, the more Sabina begins to suspect this is one foe she may not be able to kill.

REVIEW Please note: I tried to avoid spoilers, but this review assumes you’ve read the first 3 of this series.
Since the events of Green-Eyed Demon, Sabina’s twin sister, Maisie, is still reeling from her horrific ordeal and Sabina is having issues dealing with it as well, not to mention her new resolution not to drink blood from humans. However, Sabina is happy with her mage boyfriend Adam and is relieved that she’s not on the run anymore from her nasty grandmother, and super-vamp, Lavinia Kane. Maisie’s issues aside, life should be good for Sabina, right?

Wellll, not so much. See, for the sake of her and Adam’s relationship, Sabina has put aside her vamp nature to concentrate on her newly discovered mage talents. That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but denying her dark side is beginning to take its toll. When Adam and Sabina are asked by the powers-that-be to find out who has killed a human and a mage, Sabina reluctantly admits (to herself), that the challenge is just what she needs to get out of her rut, until she finds out that Alexis, former vamp Enforcer (what Sabina used to be) will also be helping them out. Alexis is a walking cliché and there were plenty of times that I wanted to slap her (you’ll see what I mean), but she certainly provides some color. See, it’s suspected that someone is challenging Slade (remember Slade? Hotness INC?) for control of the New York area, and conflict involving Slade is most definitely stress that Sabina doesn’t need, especially after their last tryst (which was super hot, btw). I’ll admit, Adam is nice, and he loves Sabina, but damn that Slade is the hotness and sometimes I’d love to be able to pull Sabina aside (you know ,in urban fantasy bookland), and whisper “Slade. Slade. Slade”…but I digress. What all of this amounts to is a ton of stress for Sabina, and also constant worry for Maisie, who is expected to deliver a prophecy at the upcoming peace treaty signing (and is acting rather strangely, even for someone that’s been through the kind of trauma that she has). Remember, the peace treaty that will assure peace among the dark races? Yep, it’s a huge thing, and everyone is under pressure to produce and perform, and Sabina is no exception.

On the bright side, Giguhl, our favorite demon minion is always by Sabina’s side, and his unshaking devotion to Sabina is one of the most endearing things about this series. He’s dealing with some stuff of his own though, namely involving one cross-dressing, cabaret singing fairy, but he’s also organizing a roller derby team (since the Demon Fight Club snafu), which offers some levity to the story, and many giggles (heh, giggles for Mr. Giggles:). The author puts poor Sabina through the emotional ringer in this one, and some twists will cause your jaw to drop (at least, they did mine). There are lots of changes for our heroine and her friends, and Ms. Wells doesn’t hesitate to pile the conflict on. But Sabina is up to it, even as she fights her own guilt and personal demons, not to mention her constant struggle to find herself. This series just keeps getting better and better, and you’ll find yourself turning the pages of Silver-Tongued Devil with the speed of a blood thirsty vamp (sorry, couldn’t help it). Trust me, by the time you finish this one, you’ll be more than ready for Blue-Blooded Vamp to hit the shelves in 2012!

Purchase Silver-Tongued Devil: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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New Releases: January 3rd, 2012

Whooot! The first new releases of the New Year! Enjoy!

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror:
Midnight Reckoning (Dark Dynasties) by Kendra Leigh Castle
Tribulations by Ken Shufeldt
City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore | REVIEW
Faith by John Love
Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland
The Bride Wore Black Leather (Nightside) by Simon R. Green
Raven Cursed: A Jane Yellowrock Novel by Faith Hunter | REVIEW
The Rise of the Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt
To Walk the Night by E.S. Moore
The Serpent Sea (Books of the Raksura) by Martha Wells
Labyrinth (Rogue Angel) by Alex Archer
A Demon Does It Better by Linda Wisdom
Flashfire: A Dragonfire Novel by Deborah Cooke
All That Bleeds (A Novel of the Etherlin) by Kimberly Frost
Wild Wild Death (A Pepper Martin Mystery) by Casey Daniels
The Daemon Prism: A Novel of the Collegia Magica by Carol Berg
Born of Ashes by Caris Roane
Immortal Hope: The Curse of the Templars by Claire Ashgrove

Mystery
Killer Crullers: A Donut Shop Mystery by Jessica Beck
The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery by Blaize Clement

Young Adult:
Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer | REVIEW
Bloodrose: A Nightshade Novel by Andrea Cremer
Dreaming Awake by Gwen Hayes
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Fangtastic (Vamped) by Lucienne Diver (Jan. 8th)

Interview (& Giveaway): Faith Hunter, author of Raven Cursed!

What better way to kick off 2012 then with an interview with one of my absolute favorite authors, Faith Hunter? Faith is the author of the Jane Yellowrock series as well as the Rogue Mage series, and she was kind enough to drop by and answer a few of my questions. She’s also generously offering up copies of both Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock #1) and Bloodring (Rogue Mage #1) to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Faith back to the blog!

Faith, your newest Jane Yellowrock novel, Raven Cursed (4th in the series), just came out, and you’re also the author of the awesome Rogue Mage series! Did you always know you wanted to write for a living? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?
My 10th grad school teacher, Carol Kohler, told me I should be a writer. I listened. And Anne McCaffrey. Her books set my mind on fire! I started reading them when I was in high school. I still can’t believe she is gone. The world is a poorer place without her.

What are some of your favorite authors or books?
I love Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris.. Kalayana Price, and James Ray Tuck Jr. (He’s a new author and he is fab-u-lous!) Kim Harrison’s Feb. 2012 release is on order for my new (Christmas gift) Kindle Fire I am loading up my Kindle. I don’t know whether to sigh or go Whoot! It’s too easy to buy books now! Rachel Caine and Eileen Wilkes. JC Hendee. Barb Hendee. Oh man. I am such a literary slut. I LOVE to read!

What’s on your nightstand right now?
I just bought Rachel Caine’s two latest in the Morganville Vampires series. . I am catching up on the Eileen Wilkes books, and I am about 4 behind. Oh – and those on the Kindle. 

If you could read one book again for the first time, what would it be?
I don’t even have to think. Two books by Anne Rice. Interview with the Vampire and Belinda.

What’s one of your most unusual writing quirks?
Bubble outlines. When I get stuck on a plot point, I pull out a poster board and highlighters and colored pencils. Seriously. And in the middle of the board goes the central plot conflict of the book. Circle it. I let my mind go, free-thin king, no structure, no intent, just asking and answering questions and thinking about the plot and the character, and writing it all down. Each thought gets a circle and I draw arrows to the other things similar to it. Suddenly a form and order will appear and, well, it’s like magic. Problem solved! But it looks weird, me on the floor with the dogs and highlighters and colored pencils and making this bubble outline. Like kid with a coloring book!

If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
South of France. I have wanted to see France for *ages!*

Quick! What’s something that makes you laugh out loud?
The dogs. We adopted two rescue Pomeranians (Tommy and Tuffy) and they are wonderful! They give me giggles all the time, but especially when a fly gets in the house. They are *terrified* of flies! They are my release and my comfort. And great, loving, happy lapdogs.

What’s one of the most embarrassing things you’ve ever done (that you’re willing to admit to?)
I have a big mouth. There are so many things under that heading that I can’t keep up. I have skid marks and callouses on my tongue. I always thought I’d get better as I got older, but I guess I’m going to have to be an *old* woman to get it right! If ever! But… Most embarrassing? Hmmmm. One thing I can recall is that I told a preacher’s wife the truth. She asked what I was reading, and I said, “Laurell K Hamilton. She writes. Erotica.” Oops…

When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I make jewelry. It relaxes me because jewelry making means working with my hands, being creative within a prescribed set of possibilities, and with definite matrix and materials. And I adore natural materials like pearls and nugget stones. Making jewelry forces me to think outside the box, uses a different part of my brain from the writing-part, and lets my mind roam. Jewelry making is great for working on plot problems!

And then there is the whitewater kayaking. The hubby and I have 13 boats at this writing. Yeah. 13. I am a firm lower Class III paddler, and Hubby is an upper Class III paddler, verging into Class IV territory. We adore it!

Is there any news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
I also still write in other genres as Gwen Hunter, and a small press currently owns the rights to a historical fiction novel, His Blood Like Tears. They took it back off the market after the first 100 books went out because one of my agents fell in love with it. HBLT is a project in hiatus right now. I have a short due out in an anthology with Charlaine Harris as lead: An Apple for the Creature. And of course, the recently released e-book Cat Tales and the novella Easy Pickings with CE Murphy. Then there is the Rogue Mage, Role Playing Game and World Book, with lots of great fiction. It’s is being Kickstarted as we speak! And Raven Cursed, natch!
Keep up with Faith: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter
Read Faith’s 2011 Guest Post!
Mercy Blade Review
Raven Cursed Review

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You must fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!).
2. Giveaway is for 1  copy each of Skinwalker and Bloodring by Faith Hunter to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 1/10/12
6. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Giveaway book kindly provided byFaith Hunter.

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Giveaway Winners: The Accidental Werewolf, Spellbent or Switchblade Goddess, and A Touch of Power!

Happy New Year everyone! I have 3 giveaway winners to announce today. Thanks so much to everyone that entered!

The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy

Congrats to justpeachy36

Spellbent or Switchblade Goddess by Lucy A. Snyder

Congrats to Julie Wolfenberger

A Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Congrats to Sam! (Update 1/4-First winner never replied so alternate was chosen)

*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter and have been notified. Thanks again to everyone that entered!

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill
Publisher:HarperCollins/Aug. 2010 (Cover pictured is for the 2012 edition)
Sci-fi/YA
4.5/5

Durango is playing the cards he was dealt. And it’’s not a good hand.

He’’s lost his family.

He’’s lost his crew.

And he’’s got the scars to prove it.

You don’t want to mess with Durango.

REVIEW
Black Hole Sun starts off with a bang (lots of them) when Durango and his crew of one, Vienne, save the children of a very rich, very influential (and as it turns out, very nasty) woman. There’s much more to this ransom “rescue” than meets the eye, though, but that comes later. Black Hole Sun takes place on a far future Mars, after Earth has been ravaged by plague, and Durango and Vienne are Regulators (sort of like our police). However, they’re disgraced Regulators, and they have to take pretty much any job they can get, which lately consists mostly of kidnap-for-ransom rescues. Durango and Vienne are approached by a group of miners who would like to hire them to train them to defend themselves against the cannibalistic Draeu. The pay is crap and the job is dangerous, but Durango and Vienne’s honor dictate that they take the job anyway. So, they round up the few Regulators that will work for them, Jenks and Fuse, and head to Hell’s Cross, which is pretty much exactly like it sounds. The miners are wary of the stranger in their midst, but there may be more to the story than just Draeu stealing their children for, um, snacks. The miners may be hiding something, something big, and it will be up to Durango and his crew to protect the minors, keep themselves from getting killed, and becoming part of something they never could have imagined.

Black Hole Sun is another pure gem that I’ve had on the shelf for a while and am so happy I picked it up, finally! Durango is only 17, and Vienne isn’t much older, but they are wise beyond their years, battle hardened, and ready for danger. Told mostly in Durango’s voice, with brief interludes, Black Hole Sun moves at breakneck speed and really doesn’t let up. The Draeu are terrifying in their ferocity, and prove a formidable foe for Durango’s team. Durango also has an AI implant named Mimi that’s a scene stealer with her snark and wit. She’s an invaluable asset, though, and I came to love her as much as I loved the human characters. Then there are Durango’s feelings for the fierce and beautiful Vienne. She’s loyal to Durango as her Chief, and anything else would be against their Tenets, but his yearning for her is so sweet, and it gives Durango a softer side, contrasting beautifully with his tough exterior. Black Hole Sun is just so much fun all the way through, and I chewed through it pretty quick, mostly because I just didn’t want to put it down. Plenty of action, great characters, and lots of twists and turns make Black Hole Sun a must read for any sci-fi/adventure fan. I’d also recommend it for fans of Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series, and would say give it a try even if you don’t consider yourself a sci-fi reader. Technically young adult, it reads like any adult novel except for the fact that the main characters are young (and there’s no bad language and sexual situations, other than mild flirtation.) It certainly doesn’t talk down to its readers, and the author has created a future world that I’ll be anxious to return to again and again. Good thing Invisible Sun, the 2nd in the series, is out in March, huh? I’ll follow Durango and Vienne anywhere. Very highly recommended.

Purchase Black Hole Sun: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Blog Tour, Interview (& Giveaway): Amanda Arista, author of Claws and Effect!


Amanda Arista, author of the brand new Claws and Effect (Book 2 of the Urban Panther Diaries) is back on the blog today, and I’m so excited to host her again, courtesy of Goddess Fish! Amanda was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and she’s also giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one commenter during the tour, so be sure to visit all the tour stops and comment for a chance to win (last tour date is 1/6/12)

Please welcome Amanda to the blog!

Amanda, you’re the author of Diaries of an Urban Panther and the just released Claws and Effect! Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
I can with confidence say that I always wanted to be a writer, but never considered myself one until recently. Writing was something I did for myself. Outside of some stories for class work, my creative life was kept to the pages of many spiral bound notebooks under my bed. I enjoyed journalism all throughout school, but it had been harped on that I needed to find a “real job.” It wasn’t until I joined the SMU Creative Writing Program that I got the courage to not only show my work to someone else, but also call myself a writer. I came to appreciate that writing wasn’t what I did in the shadows, but who I was. That’s when I realized I was a writer.

Can you tell us a bit about Claws and Effect?
Claws and Effect picks up three months after the happenings of Diaries. After four assassination attempts, Violet is getting tired of everyone trying to make her something she’s not. The lieutenants of the Pride want her dead. Chaz wants a traditional girlfriend. A pack of lost mongrels want a leader. And a new panther comes prowling into town new to the shift needs a teacher. Matters are only complicated by her dreams of violent power and prophesy from her psychic connection to Spencer, her sire, still trapped in the Neveranth but getting stronger with each passing month. In true Violet fashion, there are ups but mostly downs with some heartfelt moments and humor.

What do you like most about writing Paranormal Romance?
I really enjoy the world-building. There are complications that you can throw in the path of two lovers in a Paranormal Romance that just ratchet up those stakes (or sharpen them as the case might be). With paranormals, you can design a world completely against your hero and heroine, so when they do overcome the odds, it’s been one hell of a fight.
Plus I really like writing about magic and things that blow up.

What are a few of your favorite authors?
I LOVE NEIL GAIMEN!! Dean Koontz was my first horror and my first sex scene. Jude Deveraux taught me how to create a good romance without creating a wimpy heroine (I hate wimpy heroines). Alice Hoffman taught me the craft of writing and how to summon an emotion in one beautiful sentence.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Complete Set.

It says in your bio that you collect turtle figurines on your travels. If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Have laptop will travel. I’m always up for a good trip to a new place. It’s a little gloomy here in Dallas and I’m a water girl, so probably Greece? The island in Mamma Mia was gorgeous, so probably there. My hubby is a history nut, so I’d sent him off to explore while I enjoy the food and a little peace and quiet to write.

It also says in your bio that you love cheesy horror movies. What’s one of your faves?
I watch Shawn of the Dead a lot, but that’s more comedy. My Bloody Valentine 3D gets watched quite often, but the one that probably really shaped my love of horror movies and my world building is Night Breed, based on Cabal by Clive Barker. It’s a mid 80’s film with the acid wash jeans and hairspray and the villain is ridiculous. I love it but haven’t found it on DVD yet.

What’s one of the most embarrassing things you’ve ever done (that you’re willing to admit to?)
I was doing a book reading at Barnes and Nobles and they’d given me a Nook to read my e-book from. I was pimping my book, they were pimping their e-reader. It was an even deal.

I got up there and the whole time I’m saying to myself. “Don’t call it a Kindle, Don’t call it a Kindle.” My friends had just pitched in and bought me an Amazon Kindle for my birthday, so I still had it on the brain.
I went through my whole spiel behind the podium, and then very loudly and into the microphone said. “And thanks for the use of your Kindle.”

The moment I said it, I thumped my head against the mike and sighed as everyone around me gasped liked I’d just cussed in front of kindergarteners. I write a lot about Violet putting her foot in her mouth, so I guess it’s because I have the tendency for it as well.

Quick! Name something that makes you laugh out loud!
There’s this YouTube video called Ultimate Dog Tease that reminded me a lot of how my dog looks at me sometimes. My husband does the voice every now and then and I laugh every time.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
I’ll be signing at ALA in Dallas on Jan 22 and will also be attending RWA in July. There will be a few more signings and things between, but I’m hitting the keyboard hard to finish the next project. A few characters in Claws and Effect said that they would like a story of their own, so I’m trying to appease them.

And maybe, just maybe there might be some news about a Diaries 3, but you’ll have to check the website or be a friend on Facebook to know the official details.

Thanks for having me over today! If you’ve got any more questions, I’ll be checking in all day. And don’t forget to comment. You’ll be entered into a drawing for $25 in gift certificates.
Keep up with Amanda: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Purchase Claws and Effect: Kindle | Nook
Visit all the tour stops and comment to win the $25 Gift Card!

About Claws and Effect:
Violet Jordan Rule #2 of being a superhero: Find reliable sidekicks

Dear Diary,

Once I took down Haverty, the Primo of the city, I thought life was going to get better. After four assassination attempts, I’m thinking not so much. Haverty’s pack needs a new leader and I’ve just about run out of reasons why I’m not right for the job. Besides, having loyal followers would definitely help me fight off whoever’s out for my blood. Especially since my boyfriend is always busy playing White Hat to every wanderer except me. It’s nice that he thinks I’m tough enough to handle my own business, but a little extra back up would be nice.

So now I just need to figure out how to mentor new shifters, run a pack, keep my “real” job, and have some sort of personal life. I guess it’s all in a day’s work for this horror movie writer-turned-shapeshifting panther.

About the author:
Amanda was born in Illinois, raised in Corpus Christi, lives in Dallas but her heart lies in London. Good thing she loves to travel! The summer of second grade, she read every book in the young adult section of the library, so she started making up her own stories and hasn’t stopped.

She has a husband who fights crime, one dog who thinks he’s a real boy, and another who might be a fruit bat in disguise. When not writing, Amanda often dreams of co-opening an evil bakery and sell despicable desserts. Her particularly favorites are larvaceous lemon bars and sinful cinnamon streusel.

She spends her weekends writing at coffee shops, practicing for the day that caffeine intake becomes an Olympic sport, and plotting character demises with fellow writers Wolvarez, Killer Cupcake and Keith (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).

Review: The Panama Laugh by Thomas S. Roche

The Panama Laugh by Thomas S. Roche
Publisher:Night Shade Books/Aug. 2011
Horror/Sci-fi
4.5/5

Ex-mercenary, pirate, and gun-runner Dante Bogart knows he’s screwed the pooch after he hands one of his shady employers a biological weapon that made the dead rise from their graves, laugh like hyenas, and feast upon the living. Dante tried to blow the whistle via a tell-all video that went viral – but that was before the black ops boys deep-sixed him at a secret interrogation site on the Panama-Colombia border. When Dante wakes up in the jungle with the five intervening years missing from his memory, he knows he’s got to do something about the laughing sickness that has caused a world-wide slaughter. The resulting journey leads him across the nightmare that was the Panama Canal, around Cape Horn in a hijacked nuclear warship, to San Francisco’s mission district, where a crew of survivalist hackers have holed up in the pseudo-Moorish-castle turned porn-studio known as The Armory. This mixed band of anti-social rejects has taken Dante’s whistle blowing video as an underground gospel, leading the fight against the laughing corpses and the corporate stooges who’ve tried to profit from the slaughter. Can Dante find redemption and save civilization?

REVIEW
The Panama Laugh has been high on my to-read list for a bit, but it moved up in the queue because Paul Goat Allen (of Barnes and Noble) said it was awesome. Yep, The Panama Laugh made a zombie fave list of his, and it’s been a few books since my last zombie novel, so it was time. There’s a fairly comprehensive synopsis above so I won’t rehash it. I will say that The Panama Laugh grabs you by the throat, hard, pretty much from page one and doesn’t let you go. Please let me stress this. It. Doesn’t. Let. Up. Dante Bogart is pretty much everything I love in an anti-hero. Yes, I’m a sucker for the bad boys sometimes, I admit it, and Frosty D. (don’t call him that)¸falls right in with just the kind of guy that would get my motor running. When the man wakes up naked, bloody, and loaded for bear in the middle of a battleground, gets up, surveys the scene, takes a suspicious-yet-valuable looking case with him, and makes his getaway, I’m totally his by the time he washes up at the home of his old friend Van Fish, wondering where the last 5 years went. His old flame, Trixie (that’s Dr. Trixie to you) is there too, and she’s a little bit pissed at how Dante left things between them. That’s really the least of his worries though. Trust me on this one. When the laughers start invading the shoreline of Fish’s jungle home, the real fun starts.

Thomas Roche pulls absolutely no punches with Panama Laugh. The guffawing (this is seriously creepy-making), hysterical dead come from every direction, and thanks to a relatively good supply of ammo, lots of guts end up flying around. Lots. A veritable cornucopia of gooey flying zombie flesh fills the pages of The Panama Laugh. As Dante, Trixie, and Van make their escape via air, eventually ending up on a nuclear fortified gunship of the coast of San Francisco, our hero rarely flags. Told in first person from Dante’s POV, the narrative goes back and forth between the action at hand to the events leading up to the zombie apocalypse, and it’s not a pretty story. Corporate greed, a madman’s desire for eternal life, and radical groups bent on depopulation make for a heady cocktail, and Dante’s experience with the nasty cause of the Panama Laugh is very, very personal. Giving away too many details would take away the visceral fun of this awesome, terrifying, gruesome, and warped roller coaster ride, and I certainly don’t want to do that. Roche’s writing is tight, immediate, and engaging, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read it in one sitting (ok, I read it in two, but I wanted to read it in one.) Horror lovers will eat this one up (sorry about the pun), and if you’re a true zombie fan, it’s not to be missed. I was in the mood for something “zombie”, different, and awesome, and I got all three, and more, with The Panama Laugh. Put this one on your must list!

Purchase The Panama Laugh: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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