My Bookish Ways

The Bookseller (Hugo Marston #1) by Mark Pryor

The Bookseller (Hugo Marston #1) by Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books/Oct. 9th, 2012
Kind thanks to Seventh Street Books/Prometheus for providing a review copy

Who is killing the celebrated bouquinistes of Paris?

Max—an elderly Paris bookstall owner—is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper.

Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance somehow tied to his grim history, or even to the mysterious old books he sold?

On the streets of Paris, tensions are rising as rival drug gangs engage in violent turf wars. Before long, other booksellers start to disappear, their bodies found floating in the Seine. Though the police are not interested in his opinion, Marston is convinced the hostilities have something to do with the murders of these bouquinistes.

Then he himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins.

With Tom by his side, Marston finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the past with the present and leading the two men, quite literally, to the enemy’s lair.

Just as the killer intended.

The Bouquinistes of Paris ply their second hand book trade along the banks of the Seine from the Pont Marie to the Quai de Louvre, continuing a tradition that started in the 16th century. In the late 1800s, the bouquinistes were allowed by the government to establish themselves at fixed points, from sunrise to sunset, to 10 metres of railing at a fixed annual fee and licensing charge. Now there are over 200 stalls set up along the river, and they are considered an important part of Paris’s cultural and commercial heritage.

When Max Koche, an elderly bookseller and friend, is kidnapped right before Hugo Marston’s eyes, Hugo feels helpless and outraged. What could someone want with the elderly bookseller that would lead them to kidnapping? Hugo is sure that the police will follow up on this. After all, he’s got some clout, as a former FBI agent and now head of security for the US Embassy, so his word should offer at least some urgency to the investigation. He finds out, however, that on the word of a few other stall owners, that claim that Max went willingly with his captors, the investigation is put to rest. Hugo knows Max didn’t go willingly, though, and is determined to find out what happened to his friend. His investigation could put him at odds with his job, but being on vacation offers him a measure of freedom, and the help of a beautiful journalist and his friend Tom Green, an (ex?) CIA agent, will certainly come in handy. Turns out Max has a history as a Nazi hunter, but he’s not sure if that’s the reason for his kidnapping. He hopes that Max is still alive, but the disappearance of other booksellers makes that increasingly unlikely and sets Hugo on a trail that will lead him through a maze of drug czars, rare books, and of course, murder.

The Bookseller is the first of a series that will feature Texas native (who proudly wears his cowboy boots) Hugo Marston and offers up a protagonist that is sharp, understated, tenacious, and decent to the core. Twice divorced (one fairly recent), Hugo isn’t necessarily looking for a serious relationship, but Claudia Roux proves to be not only an intriguing love interest for Hugo, but is also a valuable asset in solving an increasingly labyrinthine case. Hugo never takes Claudia’s smarts (and connections) for granted, even though his instinct to protect her is put to the test more than once. I also appreciate that the author made Claudia a fully fleshed out part of the story, with secrets of her own, and she’s never presented one dimensionally. Hugo’s boss, Ambassador Taylor is a boss that anyone would love to have and offers Hugo his unwavering trust and also his help whenever possible (within reason of course, being the US Ambassador is a delicate job.) Probably one of my favorite characters, however, is Hugo’s foul mouthed, razor sharp, (semi) retired CIA agent friend, Tom Green. Tom is a bit on the soft side, physically, but his skills are immediately evident and without it being said, you always get the distinct feeling that Hugo, without question, trusts Tom with his life, and vice versa. Mark Pryor successfully combines a fascinating mystery, a setting (Paris) that’s a character in and of itself, and wonderful characterizations with a bit of old fashioned style to create a first novel that will appeal to mystery and thriller readers alike. The Bookseller has made an instant fan out of this reader, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next Hugo Marsten mystery.

Purchase The Bookseller:Amazon |B&N

Giveaway: Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales (anthology) ed. by Eileen Wiedbrauk

It’s a Scare-a-Thon giveaway with Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales! This one is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Halloween, and I’ve got one copy up for grabs courtesy of World Weaver Press, so check out the giveaway details, and good luck!

About Specter Spectacular:
Spirits, poltergeists, hauntings, creatures of the dark — Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales delivers all these and more in thirteen spooky twists on the classic ghost story. From the heartwarming and humorous to the eerie and chilling, this anthology holds a story for everyone who has ever been thrilled by the unknown or wondered what might lie beyond the grave. Step inside and witness ghosts of the past, tales of revenge, the inhuman, the innocent, the damned, and more. But be warned — once you cross the grave into this world of fantasy and fright, you may find there’s no way back out.

Featuring work by Amanda C. Davis, A. E. Decker, Larry Hodges, Sue Houghton, Andrea Janes, Terence Kuch, Robbie MacNiven, Kou K. Nelson, Jamie Rand, Shannon Robinson, Calie Voorhis, Jay Wilburn, and Kristina Wojtaszek.

1. You MUST fill out the form below
2. Giveaway is for Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only.
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 10/15/12
6. Giveaway books courtesy of World Weaver Press
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Angel’s Ink (The Asylum Tales #1) by Jocelynn Drake

Angel’s Ink (Asylum Tales #1) by Jocelynn Drake
Harper Voyager/Oct. 16th, 2012
Urban Fantasy
Kind thanks to Harper Voyager for providing a review copy

Buyer beware . . .

Looking for a tattoo—and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of true love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using unique potions—a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks—to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart’s desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has its price.

No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Tower where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him the right to practice magic. And if he disobeys, his punishment—execution—will be swift.

Though he’s tried to fly under the radar, Gage can’t hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead—or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage might just make it through this enchanted world alive.

After a tattoo gone wrong, Gage Powell finds himself at the receiving end of a gun barrel. Seems a good luck tattoo’s ingredients weren’t up to snuff, but it didn’t help that the customer wasn’t willing to shell out more than $50. A misfiring tattoo is bad enough, and after taking care of the disgruntled customer (with his fist), Gage is visited by his warden, Gideon, who is determined to catch Gage practicing unsanctioned magic. Gage left the life of an Ivory Tower warlock a long time ago, but he’s on probation, and if he gets caught using serious magic, the punishment will mean death. The fact that his old nemesis Simon Thorn is also on his trail is just icing. Simon considers Gage a blot and means to wipe the blot that is Gage out. Gage can hold his own, but is only able to use magic in self-defense, which isn’t always convenient. When he’s visited by a dying girl who wants a pair of wings tattooed on her back he decides to put “a little bit extra” in the tattoo, to simultaneously wonderful and disastrous effect.

Poor Gage. He just wants to live his life, run his tattoo shop, The Asylum, and work a little magic, preferably to help people, but the warlocks he does his best to avoid make his life a living hell, and he must find a way to correct the tattoo that was supposed to save a dying girl’s life, but ended up doing much more, or his very soul will be in jeopardy. He’s allowed to use magic in self defense, but never to kill, or he will lose a year of his life (which would be spent in the underworld and not without pain.)

Warlocks and witches are universally feared and he never wanted to be cruel and heartless like so many of his kind. He was taken away from his family at a very young age, when he began showing magical promise, and for their safety, hasn’t contacted them since. Makes for a pretty lonely existence, but it’s not all bad. For example, he has good friend in Bronx, the big hearted (and just plain big), troll that tattoos in his shop, and Trixie, the beautiful elf that’s hiding a secret of her own, and who he’s been nursing a crush on from the moment he laid eyes on her. All the magic in the world won’t save him if his friends get hurt because of him, and that severely hinders him in what he can and cannot do.

Gage reminds me a little bit of Harry Dresden, and although this isn’t (yet) quite as good as that series, it certainly shows promise. It’s always refreshing for me when we get a new male protagonist to root for in urban fantasy, and Low Town is a wonderful world to escape to for a while if you need to get your fix of fey, vampires, weres, etc. I enjoyed this first book in a new series, and the author also has e-shorts out about Bronx and Trixie if you’d like to know more about those characters. Gage is a great new UF voice, and his devotion to his friends (who he considers his family) is partly what makes this such a fun read. Fans of urban fantasy should enjoy this one, and will certainly look forward to the next installment.

Pre-Order Angel’s Ink:Amazon |B&N

Interview: David Moody, author of the Autumn series

Continuing on with the October Scare-a-Thon, I’m thrilled to welcome author David Moody! David is the author of the popular Autumn series and also the Hater series, both guaranteed to get you in the mood for Halloween. David was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, so please give him a warm welcome, and be sure to check out his books!

David, you have two popular series out with Autumn and Hater, and your newest novel, Trust, just came out! Will you tell us a bit about how you became a writer?
I’d never really intended to write for a living. When I left school my ambition was (and still is) to make films, but that was in the late eighties/early nineties, and getting into a creative vocation like filmmaking was tough back then. Film school courses were hard to find where I am and even harder to get onto, and we’re talking about the very early days of the digital revolution, so the physical act of making a film was in many ways more involved and restricted than it is now – I think things might have been very different if I’d had access to a HD camera and a copy of Final Cut back then!

I ended up working in a bank – I just fell into the job really – and it actually wasn’t as bad as I first thought. Sure, it was all about sales and profit, but I got to meet a lot of interesting people and I learned a huge amount about business which has stood me in good stead since. But I had all these stories – my un-filmed films – rattling around in my head and I had to try and tell them. So I started writing. I finished my debut novel (Straight to You) in 1995 and it was released through a very small UK publisher the following year. Unfortunately, it didn’t set the book world alight!

Undeterred, I kept writing, and in 2001 I had another book – Autumn – ready to release. Rather than jump straight back onto the submission>rejection merry-go-round, I decided to try something different. I was resigned to not making a huge amount of cash out of my writing, so I thought I’d cut my losses and give Autumn away free online, because what good’s a book if no one’s reading it? Back then it was a pretty radical thing to do (hard to believe now, when just about everyone’s giving their work away online). It was a real success and was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. I went on to write a series of sequels, as well as a few other novels which I published through my own publishing house: Infected Books. In 2006 I sold the film rights to Autumn to a small Canadian filmmaker (who went on to make the movie which starred Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine), and then I sold rights to another novel – Hater – to Mark Johnson (who produced the Chronicles of Narnia films) and Guillermo del Toro. On the back of that deal, my Autumn and Hater books were acquired by Thomas Dunne Books of New York.

It’s interesting that you mention Trust. For that release I’ve gone back to my independent roots and published it through Infected Books. The market has changed so dramatically over the years, and I wanted to see how the book would do without the backing of a major publisher. Folks can find out more about it at

Your books deal with post-apocalyptic scenarios and in Autumn in particular, 99% of the world’s population is gone in a period of 24 hours. Why do you think post-apocalyptic stories are so popular recently, especially those involving zombies, contagion, or some form of “living dead?”
From a personal point of view, I find the end of the world incredibly interesting to write about. I’m an avid people-watcher (I know that sounds dodgy, but it’s not!). I’m fascinated by the way we react and interact together, by the way human behavior can be altered by the extreme situations people find themselves in. Post-apocalyptic scenarios are ideal for examining those kinds of behaviors because, at the end of the world, everything is on the line, and people will, I think, behave in a far more honest and direct way than they do at present in the regulated, ‘civilized’ world. When people are facing the ultimate decisions in life – to fight to survive or to give up and roll over, for example – things become less clouded by all the restrictions and niceties of the world we know today.

As a reader, I think post-apocalyptic tales have a nightmare appeal. They’re the worst case scenario. I think they’re particularly in favor right now because there seems to be such a fine line between fact and fiction today. Turn on the TV news and you’re hard pushed to hear anything other than reports about wars, uprisings, famines, epidemics, natural disaster and all manner of other grim headlines. People tend to drift through the day-to-day as if they’re immune from all of this, and that’s frightening. Anything could happen in the next few hours to completely turn your world upside down…

Zombies are particularly fashionable right now, and I’m not complaining about that having been writing about them for so long! I think they’re a wonderful creature to write about, not least because you can superimpose so much on a zombie story. When you think how one-dimensional the living dead often are, it’s amazing how adaptable they are in literary terms. I guess there are all manner of reasons why they have this appeal (if appeal is the right word!). For my money, I think we remain frightened of them because they’re so close to us in so many ways. There’s a desperately thin line – be it a solitary germ, a dose of radiation, a voodoo spell or something similar – preventing us from becoming them, and that’s terrifying!

Infections and diseases go hand-in-hand with the living dead. By their very nature, zombies are horrible, dirty, germ-filled creatures which disgust us. And the more of them there are, the more our fear increases. So I guess, taking that one step further, you could say our fear of contagion might stem from the sheer number of other people we’re surrounded by every day, and how interconnected we’ve all become.

What are some of your biggest influences, literary or otherwise?
From a literary perspective, I always cite John Wyndham and HG Wells as perhaps my biggest influences. The War of the Worlds and The Day of the Triffids are undisputed classics of post-apocalyptic fiction. Another name I’d add to that list is James Herbert. I’m not sure how well known he is elsewhere, but here in the UK he’s ranked alongside Stephen King. He’s sold more than fifty six million books and has kept horror in the mainstream here for more than thirty years. Last month I had the pleasure of hosting the only two events he held for the release of ASH, his first novel in six years. To be able to talk to him candidly about the business, and to watch him at work with the public who’d come to see him, was truly inspiring. Both of the events had audiences in excess of two hundred people. James took time to talk to every single one of them, and was as warm and generous with his time with the very last person in the queue as he’d been with the first. I read a lot of his books when I was younger. Domain, in particular, was a huge influence on me, and it was a real thrill when he signed my old, tattered, yellow-paged paperback copy.

I talked about my love of film, so I should mention a few directors who’ve also influenced me. It goes without saying that George Romero is on that list – would there even be a zombie genre without George’s films? I’d also add John Carpenter and David Cronenberg who, in the early part of their respective careers, produced a stream of groundbreaking horror movies.

How about favorite films?
I guess I almost just answered that! I think I’d have to select Romero’s original Dead trilogy (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead), along with Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly. Another favorite – which deserves a place on the list for its sheer atmosphere – is The Old Dark House, a Universal horror movie from 1932. The most terrifying film I’ve ever seen, however, is a BBC TV movie called Threads which is a dramatization of a nuclear strike on Sheffield. That’s one I think every scholar of horror should watch at least once. Absolute, total, unrelenting horror.

What are you reading now?
I’m way behind with my reading. I’ve just finished re-reading a number of James Herbert novels in preparation for interviewing him at the events I mentioned earlier, and I’m about to dive into Night of the Triffids – an authorized sequel to the original by Simon Clark. It’s out of print at the moment, but I managed to track down a copy. I’m going to be talking to Simon in the near future and putting together a feature on the Triffids for my website.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
To be honest, I don’t get much free time right now! As I’ve already mentioned, I’m an avid film watcher, so there’s nothing I like more than to sit and watch a good movie. Unfortunately my family doesn’t share my taste in horror, so I often have to wait until the rest of them have gone to bed! Apart from that, I’m a (very slow) long distance runner, so I’m out training several times a week. Bizarrely, I do a lot of good work when I’m running. It’s just about the only time I don’t get interrupted, so when I’m out pounding the streets is a great time to think about ideas and work through plot points.

What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’m at quite a strange point in my career right now. The Autumn and Hater series have both come to an end and I’m in the process of putting together several new projects. First up is a novel called 17 Days which is very different to everything else I’ve written, not least because it’s not about the end of the world! I’m also working on a straight-forward horror novel called Strangers (which is the closest I’ll ever get to a vampire novel), and I’m in the early stages of writing a five (or six) book horror/science-fiction series called The Spaces Between. Think Children of Men meets Quatermass, and you’ll be getting close to the tone I’m going for. I’m also going to continue re-releasing some of my old works (and possibly serializing them like Trust) and, finally, I’ve written a short film called Isolation which we’re hoping to produce in mid-2013.

Oh, and I’m on tour! I’m working my way around the UK with fellow zombie author Wayne Simmons. It’s the ‘Never Trust a Man With Hair’ tour! Current dates are available on, and I hope we’ll be announcing plenty more events in 2013.
Keep up with David: Website | Twitter | David’s Amazon Page | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway: The Fever Series (Books 1-5) by Karen Marie Moning

Iced, the first book in the Dani O’Malley series,will be out on the 30th, but in the meantime, you can win the first 5 books in the Fever series, courtesy of Random House! So, check out the details, and good luck!

About Darkfever (Book 1)
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman.

Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death – a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone – Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae…

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…

1. You MUST fill out the form below
2. Giveaway is for Fever Series (Books 1-5) by Karen Marie Moning 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 10/13/12
6. Giveaway books courtesy of Random House
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Interview (& Giveaway): Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen

I’m so thrilled to have Daniel Marks on the blog today! Daniel is the author of the brand new YA fantasy Velveteen, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Also, check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post, because Daniel has offered up a signed copy of Velveteen to one very lucky winner, and trust me, you want this one!

Danny, you’re brand new young adult novel, Velveteen, comes out in a few days! Will you tell us a bit about it?
Let’s see if I can sum it up right quick: In the midst of a purgatory-shattering uprising, a soul-retriever must juggle her responsibilities to her team, her self, and the future victims of the man who killed her—not to mention a newly deceased (and very hot) boy’s fixation.

What made you decide to write a young adult novel?
I had the idea for a middle grade novel from the beginning—mind you, the beginning was only about eight years ago. I wrote a novella length treatment of a similar purgatory story featuring Luisa as the protagonist. After receiving the kind of feedback a writer loves to hear (gah, too depressing, too gruesome, way to old for the age group), I scrapped the then-titled THE TROUBLE WITH THE LIVING and wrote something really gruesome instead…for four years. After those other books (we shan’t speak of them here) tanked, I dusted off TROUBLE and gave it the protagonist it deserved and upped the age target. Voila!

Velveteen is definitely heavy on the creepy. What things seriously creep you out?
I’m creeped out by where my mind will go if I let it. I have a tendency to dwell, so just about anything can get me going. Throw-in the dark, and unfamiliar place, or a creaking floorboard and I can seriously trigger a panic attack.

Did you have any particular influences for Velveteen?
Back in 2007, I visited MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York while visiting my agent and editor. I should preface this by saying that I minored in art history and would have majored in it, if I’d had anything more than an admiration for the work (no interest in curation or sales). Anyway. They were hosting an exhibition of George Seurat’s charcoal sketches. Primarily known for his unassuming pointalism—think Le Grande Jatte—his drawings were a completely different monster. Grim, often brooding portraits of performers, drunks, awash in a beautiful grayscale. I really think that’s where VELVETEEN’s Purgatory was born.

Any recent YA faves?
Ooh. So many. I love A.S. King’s PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ, so strange and beautiful and really gut-wrenching. Dia Reeve’s BLEEDING VIOLET was a revelation in how weird YA could be and I loved it. There are so many layers in that book, I don’t think people realize. BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray was pretty fantastic and hilarious and had some really interesting things to say about feminism and consumerism. I devoured it.

What are you reading now?
It’s October, so I’m getting in touch with my horror roots and reading John Hornor Jacob’s soon to be classic zombiethon THIS DARK EARTH. It’s pretty fantastic. If that weren’t enough, I’m on book 3 of THE WALKING DEAD. But I only read that at bedtime. It’s important to pad the dreams with a little rot.

What do you like to see in a good book?
Great consistent characters. They don’t have to be likeable, just real. I’m perfectly happy to follow a jerk all the way to hell if they are written well. (see Chuck Wendig’s BLACKBIRDS)

What makes you want to set aside a book in frustration?
Info-dumping. Period.

If you could read one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
THE STAND. I’d love to know if it would enthrall me now as it did when I was a teen. Interestingly, I had never read a book twice until this year, when I reread PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi. Brilliant stuff.

When you’re not writing, and manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Cooking and hiking. Actually, if I’m being honest, I spend more time cooking and hiking than I do writing anyway. I love nothing more than cooking, I could spend all day in the kitchen and was this close (you can’t see me but my fingers are very close to touching) to entering culinary school to pursue a career as a chef. The thing about cooking and hiking, they lend themselves to writing because I plot in my head rather than on paper so solitary activities work for me.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?
None. I feel very little guilt. It’s an only child thing. But if I did, it’d be around drinking Starbucks so much. I’m from the Seattle area and we are NOTORIOUS coffee snobs, and while I agree that Starbucks is shit coffee and they roast their beans at crematorium levels, I still drink it. ::waits for the coffee Gestapo to haul him away::

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’d just love for everyone to get out there and pick up a coffee of Velveteen for your favorite YA reader—or your least favorite, for that matter. I’m hoping to write a couple of more books set in Velvet’s world, but that’s not where my editor and I are headed currently. The next book is most definitely something very different. All horror. All. The. Time. Prepare yourselves.
Keep up with Daniel: Website | Twitter

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries)
2. Giveaway is for 1 SIGNED copy of Velveteen by Daniel Marks to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US  addresses only .
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 10/12/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of Daniel Marks
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Book News: October 5th, 2012

Here’s my roundup of book news (and other fun stuff) around the web for the week!

Interviews and more:


Excerpts and such:

Fun stuff:

Also, I kicked off the October 2012 Scare-a-Thon this week, 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!

Guest Post: Merrie DeStefano, author of Fathom

I’m always thrilled to host Merrie DeStefano, and she was kind enough to stop by to talk a bit about her new YA, Fathom! I’ll have a review for you soon, but in the meantime, you can check out Jo’s review over at Vampire Book Club and I’ve got buy links at the bottom so you can snag a copy for yourself!

Creating a new monster
-Merrie Destefano

All story ideas begin somewhere. Mine usually begin with a character in an unusual setting. The idea for my young adult novel, Fathom, was born from a single scene: A mother telling stories to her two young daughters, all three of them nestled in a tree house. The whole story unfolded from that one scene idea, although in the end, I removed that scene from the book.

The mother was telling her daughters myths and legends from their homeland, Ireland.

The concept of myth played a strong part in this novel. In the process, I did a lot of research—especially when it came time to create the monster. Somewhere along the way, I came across the legend of a lake in Canada, where the local people believe that if you take anything from the lake, the lake will come after you and kill you. Unfortunately, I later lost all my notes and couldn’t find any mention of this lake or the legend in any of my reference books or online.

At that point, I had to do what writers have done for thousands of years.

I just made stuff up.

In a way, losing my notes was the best thing that could have happened. I was then free to create my own legends and my own mythical beast. With each chapter, my monster—which lives in the ocean, but can also come on land for short periods of time—became more wicked and more dangerous. I was able to give this beast a mysterious back story and a nefarious purpose. As creepy as this thing was, it fit perfectly into the well-knit weave of Fathom’s mythology, just like a natural predator who serves a purpose by maintaining the balance of nature.

The monster became the dark note in the book’s score, but there are light notes as well. One of the main themes is that of coming of age. The main character, sixteen-year-old Kira Callahan, leaves childhood behind as she gains the courage to stand up to the bullies at school, and as she begins to fall in love for the first time. The mysteries of her past slowly unfold throughout the book as she discovers that her past isn’t what she thought it was.

At its heart, Fathom is book about courage and love and hope—and never giving up, no matter how fierce the monsters in your life are.

Keep up with Merrie: Website | Twitter

About Fathom:
Turning sixteen can be hell, especially if everyone in town thinks your mother killed herself and your sister. All Kira Callahan wants to do is swim, hang out with her best friend, Sean, and ignore the kids who torment her at school. That is, until one day when she gets invited to a party. For three minutes her life is wonderful—she even kisses Sean. Then somebody spikes her drink and some girls from out of town lure her into the ocean and hold her underwater.

Kira soon discovers that the group of wild teenagers who have come to visit Crescent Moon Bay are not as innocent as they seem. In fact, nothing is as it seems—not the mysterious deaths of her sister and mother, not her heritage, not even her best friend. And everything seems to hinge on the ancient Celtic legends that her mother used to tell her as a child.
Purchase:  Amazon | B&N

About Merrie:
CURRENTLY A FULL-TIME NOVELIST with HarperVoyager, Merrie Destefano’s second novel, FEAST: HARVEST OF DREAMS, released in June, 2011. In a previous life, she was the editor of Victorian Homes magazine, founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine, and contributing editor of Romantic Homes magazine, and as such, she wrote for a combined circulation of approximately 250,000.

With 20 years experience in publishing, she worked for a variety of publishing/broadcasting companies that include Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, and PJS Publications (now Primedia). Besides editing and writing, her background includes print buying, writing/producing radio promos, directing photo shoots, developing new products, writing jacket copy for books, creating sales media packets and organizing direct mail campaigns.

Born in the Midwest, she currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

Giveaway: Ghost Town by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and Tim Waggoner

In honor of the Scare-a-Thon, I’ve got a copy of Ghost Town by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and Tim Waggoner up for grabs, so check out the book and the giveaway details, and good luck!

About Ghost Town:
WELCOME TO EXETER, THE “MOST HAUNTED TOWN IN AMERICA,” thanks to a deadly flood that unleashed an army of ghosts decades ago. And when ghost trackers Amber, Drew, and Trevor attend a conference during Exeter’s spookiest week of the year, the ghouls grow restless. First, an innocent bookstore worker is mysteriously killed, setting off a string of strange deaths that point to a shadowy spirit known as the Dark Lady.

With a paranormal revolution ensuing, the team must stop the twisted bloodbath. But a past horror involving the death of a former teammate has them spinning faster than a specter in a storm, especially when they learn that it’s his ghost who awakened the Dark Lady. Now, with their lives on the line and the entire town at stake, the three must decide whether to trust the spirit of their old friend or to finally put a stake through his heart.

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Ghost Town to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US  addresses only .
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 10/12/12
6. Giveaway book courtesy of Gallery Books
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Guest Post (& Giveaway): Claire Ashgrove, author of Immortal Surrender

As you may know, I’m not a huge reader of romance, however, Claire Ashgrove’s Immortal’s series drew me in and kept me riveted (my review of Immortal Hope), and I’m always thrilled to host Claire and spread the word about her books! Her newest book in the series, Immortal Surrender, is out now, and Claire was kind enough to write about her worldbuilding for us, and there’s an excerpt too, so please welcome her to the blog!

Also, Tor has offered 3 copies of Immortal Surrender for giveaway, so check out the details at the bottom of the post!

Building Worlds

One of my favorite aspects of writing is world building. Frankly, it’s a passion of mine, and I’m all about hearing author share theirs as well. A world that is built well, is an art form, and one I strive to meet every time I put word on paper. This may come from my background, which is in Fantasy, and frankly where I see the strongest worlds coming to life. Primarily because the genre has more freedom and allowance within it, than others. (IE Readers don’t necessarily balk at 500 page books in Fantasy, where they would in Romance).

My favorite part of the Templar world building is blending the past with the present. The Templar world is so vastly different from ours. They are cloistered, pretty much. And they are rooted in a time that many of us can’t comprehend. Yes, they’ve experienced the passing of 8-9 centuries (depending on the knight), but they haven’t been part of that, unless they absolutely have to.

Their weaponry, their lifestyle, their purpose and their very values are archaic compared to our lifestyles. They are simple – communal property, no financial dependency, eat what sustains, fight, sleep and die. And that also carries a ‘hardness’ that defies our rather comfortable lifestyles.

Just as a quick example, let’s look at how they fight. They were founded when the only successful means of fighting anything was a sword, in hand-to-hand combat, with minimal protective armor. Early, early 1100s… when gunpowder didn’t become prominent in England, until 250 years later. The first mass-produced gun didn’t happen until 1835. Naturally, the archangels created a means of overcoming evil with what the men could use at the time. And if evil was susceptible to the blade, evil would have to become susceptible to bullets in order for the knights to “come around” to modern warfare.


If what they kill doesn’t respond to modern technology, they have no need to alter their battle tactics. Add in the fact that we’re talking 600-700 years of expertise with the sword, the gun is going to be awkward when it comes around. Why fix what ain’t broke?

So blending this in, maintaining the old world form, style, and beliefs on top of the modern existence, has been a wonderfully fun endeavor! It’s allowed me to incorporate history, historical fact, and play with possibilities that defied the historical times. For a writer, it doesn’t get better than that!

Specific questions on my world building? Ask away! I’d love to answer!

Keep up with Claire: Website | Twitter

In the blink of an eye, his serene expression morphed into a dark scowl. “You do not believe me.”

“No,” she answered on a chortle. “Did you really expect me to? I’m sure someone else would—you’ve put so much feeling into the tale. But I’m a scientist. I don’t even believe in God.” To soften his disappointment, she reached between them and patted his hand. “You did good though. Better than some of the things Gabriel has told me.”

He abruptly pulled his hand away. “Everything Gabriel has ever told you is true, damsel. He is an archangel. Whilst he may behave most strange, he is God’s messenger and cannot lie.”

Gabriel an archangel. Oh man, the two of them were in this together. When she saw him next, she’d buy him a drink for this. She grinned at Farran and shook her head. “You two are something else. I swear, I should have known. He tries to do this to me all the time.”

“Woman,” Farran barked. “’Tis no jest! You are branded as mine.” He grabbed the hem of his shirt and yanked it over his head. “Look for yourself.”

Noelle gaped at the vision that sat before her. Smooth bronzed muscle lacked any trace of hair and bulged even as he sat still. The chest she remembered so vividly was nothing less than a wall of corrugated stone. Thick forearms led to even thicker biceps, arms so strong she felt three times smaller than normal. He could crush a man—or so her imagination said.

Her appreciative stare dropped to his belly and stopped on her gasp. Scored into his taut abdomen, a white scar ran from his ribs down beneath the waistband of his jeans. A good three inches wide, and easily three times as long, the scarred flesh assumed the distinct shape of a ring-hilted dagger. Someone had heated metal and pressed it to his skin.

“My word,” she whispered.

Drawn to the horror of the mark, she leaned in and traced a fingertip down the length of the hilt. The pain he must have felt—her heart twisted hard. “What happened to you?” She glanced up at his face.

Eyes closed, he sat utterly still. “’Twas meant to gain my confession.”

Noelle winced. Looking back at the ugly scar she couldn’t take her hand off of, her chest tightened. What sort of person could do that to a man? His stomach bunched beneath her fingertips, mystifying her even more. As deep as the wound had been, he was lucky he could feel anything at all. Whoever had done this was sick. Sick, sick. “Were you in the war?” she asked quietly.

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries)
2. Giveaway is for 3 copies of Immortal Surrender to 3 winners.
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 10/11/12
6. Giveaway books courtesy of Tor
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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