My Bookish Ways

Interview (& Giveaway): Karen Duvall, author of Darkest Knight

I’m thrilled to have Karen Duvall on the blog today! Karen is the author of Knight’s Curse, and the followup, Darkest Knight, which just came out! Karen was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and we’ve also got a copy of Darkest Knight up for grabs, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Karen to the blog!

Karen, it says in your bio that you’ve had a love of storytelling from age 3. What inspired you to finally decide to take the plunge and write your first novel?
I’ve always enjoyed writing stories and have been writing short ones since I was in grade school. The idea of writing a full novel intimidated me, but it also intrigued me. However, for years I was too chicken to give it a try. Haha! Finally, in 1991 or 1992, I wrote my first novel-length manuscript. It was semi-autobiographical and a mystery. Sort of. It turned out okay and got me my first agent, but it wasn’t good enough to be published. I still had a lot to learn back then.

How did you celebrate when you found out you’d be published?
I didn’t do much, actually. Now that I’ve moved away from Colorado where all my writer friends are, the only way to celebrate with them was through email, which I did with gusto! But that’s really it. My husband and I didn’t have the money to go out to dinner, but I think we ordered a pizza a couple of weeks later.

When you began writing Knight’s Curse, did you know you wanted it to be a series, or did you just plan to see where Chalice took you?
I knew I wanted it to be a series from the start. In fact, my first attempt at the first book had to be rewritten after I was halfway through because it stalled out. I had too many plot threads going on. I knew at that point there were plenty of stories yet to be told about Chalice and the Hatchet Knights.

Your newest book in the series, Darkest Knight, just came out! Can you tell us a bit about it?
Of course! At the end of the last book, Chalice finally ends the curse that bonded her to the gargoyle Shui, but it cost Aydin, the man she loves, his humanity. In Darkest Knight, Chalice is determined to make Aydin human again and she’s eager to join her sister knights in the Order of the Hatchet. But she soon learns that someone has killed almost all the knights and only a handful remain. It’s up to Chalice to track down the killer, and Aydin, who’s a gargoyle now, joins in the quest.

I love the rich and unique world you’ve created with Knight’s Curse and Darkest Knight. What are some of your biggest literary influences?
There are quite a few that have inspired me. I’m a huge fan of Clive Barker, who’s not only an incredible storyteller, but his writing is so lyrical it makes you want to cry. He’s written horror, but he’s also written what he calls “fantastica.” Neil Gaiman is another one. His NEVERWHERE was so totally original I couldn’t get enough. That’s what I really like in the fiction I read, originality. I want the author to take me places I’ve never been to before. Oh, and one more: Liz Williams, whose Inspector Chen series was published by Nightshade Books. The Chen books are some of the most imaginative stories I’ve ever read. The author is sheer genius.

What is your favorite part of writing fantasy?
I like to push boundaries, go places where no man, woman or child has gone before. (queue Startrek theme song) I enjoy putting ordinary people in bizarre and surrealistic situations, or vice versa, and then watch how they react. I’d like to say the characters write themselves, but that’s nowhere near the truth. They just produce the sparks that give them life, then I take it from there. Supernatural characters aren’t easily understood, and that’s a challenge. But I love it!

What are you reading now?
Right now I’m rereading some old favorites. I read across all genres to experience the flavor of a variety of styles and themes. I like mysteries and romance in addition to fantasy, and right now I’m indulging myself with an older Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel. Her skill at writing engaging characters is amazing. I don’t read as much as I used to, though. I’m too busy writing.

If you could have drinks with anyone from the literary world (living or dead), who would you choose?
Oh, that’s hard. I think I’d love to have a sit-down with Stephen King. I admire the heck out of him, and he understands writers. I feel like he could divulge a few secrets he hasn’t revealed yet and I want to be the first to know what they are.

When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m a graphic designer so I work a lot. And it’s work I enjoy doing. It’s a blessing to have the freedom to be creative in two divergent jobs. Now that self-publishing is on the rise, I’m seeing more demand for custom covers, and I really like designing book covers for authors.

Is there any news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
As a matter of fact I’m deep into a novella I’m writing for Harlequin’s End Of the World Anthology. It’s a slight departure for me because it’s more dystopian than urban fantasy, but still has fantasy elements. My story is about the aftermath of the biggest solar storm to hit the planet in 2012. My heroine is a storm chaser who can predict storms. The anthology will include the novellas of two other Harlequin authors and is scheduled for publication in 2013.
Also, I’ll be on the faculty for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs next month, where I’ll be teaching two workshops and speaking on a panel.

Keep up with Karen: Website | Twitter
Read my review of Knight’s Curse
Read my review of Darkest Knight

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Darkest Knight by Karen Duvall to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry
5. You must enter on or before 3/30/12
6. Giveaway book generously provide by Harlequin.
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Interview (& Giveaway): David Macinnis Gill, author of Black Hole Sun and Invisible Sun

I have the amazing David Macinnis Gill on the blog today, and couldn’t be more excited! David is the author of Soul Enchilada, Black Hole Sun, and its upcoming companion novel, Invisible Sun. He was kind enough to let me interrogate ask him a few questions and I’m thrilled to host him today! Also, I’m giving away my ARC of Invisible Sun, so check out the deets at the end of the post!

Please give David a warm welcome!

David, you’re the author of Soul Enchilada, Black Hole Sun, and Invisible Sun (out next week, squeeee!). Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to take the plunge and write your first novel.
I grew up in a time when mothers wore their hair teased into puffy bouffants affixed with hairspray, so my mom’s weekly visits to the beauty parlor were a staple of my elementary age childhood. Kids weren’t allowed inside, so I spent most of the hours it took to render her hairdo sitting in the car, drawing stories, writing dialog, and narrating what happened. Those stories were the genesis for wanting to be a writer when I grew. I always wanted to make comics, but I’ couldn’t draw, so I used words to do the drawing for me. I was inspired to write my first published novel, Soul Enchilada, when I entered a short story contest to write a scary Halloween story. The reaction was so positive, I turned it into a novel. The very novel I wrote (Soul as my seventh) was written in my eleventh grade Econ class. I still have it in the garage, when it sits atop the freezer gathering dust.

How did you celebrate when you sold your first book? Was there squeeeing? Dancing? Cake? All of the above?
I wish! Honest and for true, there was just a deep sense of relief. As I said above, Soul Enchilada was the seventh novel I written, and on two previous ones, it was *this close* to a sale. So when I got the call—which was actually an email—I sat and stared at the screen for an hour. There was squeeeing and cake and maybe some dance-like hopping about, but it came later on when reality sunk in.

Soul Enchilada was very much a supernatural fantasy, whereas Black Hole Sun and Invisible Sun are sci-fi and steeped in futuristic action. Was it a challenge to make the switch from fantasy to sci-fi?
It was a big challenge. With fantasy, you can really stretch things to the extreme for effect, especially considering that Soul Enchilada was written as a broad farce that was meant to make readers laugh their way through some of the very heavy themes of loss and betrayal. With sci-fi, you have to ground your work in a scientific basis.

While you can extrapolate, you still have to stay within the bounds of science. For example, in Black Hole Sun, the soldiers wear thin body armor that can absorb the energy of bullets. Currently, we have bioadaptive cloth that can adjust to temperature. I extended its capabilities by adding future nanotechnology to the mix.

Did you have to do any extra research for Black Hole Sun and Invisible Sun?
A few tons of it! Research on Mars history, terrain, atmosphere, orbits, seasons, winds, core, soil, etc. research on terraforming, greenhouse gases, permafrost, canyons, flooding, oceans, and tides. Research on Earth weapons, food, customs, languages, religions, governments, art, poetry, and hairstyles. And earrings. There’s more, but those come to mind first.

What’s one of your most unusual writing habits?
I write every scene out as a screenplay first, then write it in prose. This helps me with blocking, especially the fight scenes.

What are some of your favorite authors or books?
Oy, that’s tough. There are so many. For teens, Jo Knowles, Suzanne Collins, Chris Crutcher, Megan Whalen Turner, cind Pon, Lauren Myracle, David Lubar, and Graham Salisbury.

Are there any particular sci-fi titles (aside from Black Hole Sun and Invisible Sun, of course), that you would recommend?
Robert Heinlein’s junior novels such as Double Star and The Rolling Stones; Leviathan by Scott Westefeld; Across the Universe by Beth Revis.

What are you reading now?
Do revisions of Shadow on the Sun, the next Durango novel count? No? Ten I’m planning to read Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos when I finish.

When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
My daughters play ice hockey, so I spend a lot of time in ice rinks shivering. I also like playing video games, which is kind of obvious when you read my books.

If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Germany. I’ve always wanted to travel Europe and that seems like a starting place. Also, Black Hole Sun has been translated into German, and I would love to walk into a bookstore and say, “das ist mein Buch.”

If trips in the Space Elevator were available tomorrow, would you go? If so, who would you take with you?
Sure! I’d take my son, who loves roller coasters. I’d be terrified the whole time—I gave Durango my fear of heights.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Keep an eye open for the third book in the series, Shadow on the Sun, due March out 2013!

Keep up with David: Website | Twitter
Black Hole Sun: Amazon | B&N
Invisible Sun (pre-order): Amazon | B&N
Soul Enchilada: Amazon | B&N

**Read my reviews of Black Hole Sun and Invisible Sun!

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of INVISIBLE SUN (arc) by David Macinnis Gill to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry
5. You must enter on or before 3/30/12
6. Giveaway book generously provide by the author.
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

read more

Early Review: Invisible Sun by David Macinnis Gill

Invisible Sun by David Macinnis Gill
HarperTeen/Greenwillow/March 27, 2012
Kind thanks to HarperTeen for providing a review copy

You don’t want to mess with Durango.
He left his crew behind.
His father is dead.
And he’s going to prove himself to Vienne,
even if he dies trying.
As he races through flood and fire and across a violent and terrifying planet,
there’s a 97% chance he’s going to die trying.
But who’s counting.

Invisible Sun is a companion novel to the wonderful Black Hole Sun, so you don’t have to have read Black Hole Sun first, but it will definitely make the experience that much more fun. That said, as much as I loved the first one, Invisible Sun blew me away! The action starts right away, with Durango and Vienne on a job to steal some rather sensitive data, and as soon as they wrap that up, they head out to meet Vienne’s family. It’s not quite what you think, though. Vienne was raised at a monastery, and watching as tough guy Durango deals with quiet, contemplative monastery life is entertaining to say the least. Not to mention the dance lessons! Seeing this gentler side of Vienne (who’s about as tough as they get) is new for Durango, but just reinforces his feelings for her. When trouble at a nearby collective stirs our Regulators into action, this kicks off a series of events that tests the very limits of our heroes.

I did say I love this series, yes? I do, and I adore Durango and Vienne, so this one was hard for me to read in places. Durango’s love for Vienne carries the book, and they’re both nearly done in by what the bad guys put them through. Vienne’s ordeal is particularly bad, and my heart broke for her repeatedly. The bad guys (especially the star baddie, the sniveling Archibald), are really bad and have no problem with mowing down anyone that gets in the way of their plans. Seriously, Archibald’s preoccupation with fire is chilling and terrifying. Durango makes a new friend in Riki-Tiki, the young Tengu initiate who would rather be in the middle of the action, and she’s sure to charm your socks off. Also ever present is Mimi, Durango’s AI that only he can hear, and who’s sarcasm steals the show repeatedly. Speaking of action…it rarely lets up and there are a few revelations that had my jaw on the floor. I hate that I’ll have to wait until March 2013 for the next one, but it will be worth it. Totally.

Pre-Order Invisible Sun: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Add to Goodreads

Interview (& Giveaway): Gayle Ann Williams, author of Tsunami Blue and Riders on the Storm

I’m so thrilled to have the lovely Gayle Ann Williams on the blog today! Gayle is the author of the awesome Tsunami Blue, and its sequel, Riders On the Storm (just out!!). She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and is offering a killer giveaway, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Gayle to the blog!

Gayle, I absolutely loved Tsunami Blue, and the next book in the series, Riders On the Storm, is out now! Have you always wanted to write? What made you decide to take the plunge and write a novel?
Thanks Kristin, and first of all, thank you so much for having me here today. You have a beautiful site. This is great fun.

The short answer is yes. I have always written, sometimes just scribbles here and there, sometimes really bad poetry, and in my college days, long rambling essays filled with angst, mainly about me, lol. But there was always that pull, that need, to put words on paper, to find a home as it were for all the stories in my head. From the time I was small until now, that has never left me. I don’t think it ever will. I’ve always know that one day, my words would become a novel.

How did you celebrate when you sold your first book?
Actually? I had a mammogram. Really, lol.

When the call came from the amazing Leah Hultenschmidt (now Senior Editor with Sourcebooks Casablanca), I jumped out of the shower to answer the phone. I dropped the phone, caught it in midair, had to ask Leah to repeat who she was and how did she spell her name. Embarrassing I know! After receiving the news, I raced out the door with wet hair, my T-Shirt on inside out, and two different flip flops. Hey, don’t judge, I was late, lol. The technician at my appointment said she had never seen anyone so happy to have a mammogram in all her life.

Fast forward to the release of TSUNAMI BLUE. There is a photo on my website with the book TSUNAMI BLUE, a lemon drop martini, and Friday Harbor as backdrop, taken at my favorite bar on my little island. That celebration went on all day. . and most of the night. :)

Tsunami Blue takes place in a world made of water, and your love of the ocean is obvious. What were some of your biggest influences in writing it?
On Christmas night, 2004 I boarded a plane out of Seattle and flew right into the Southeast Asia tsunami. In the air when the deadly wave hit, I knew that if I had arrived a few hours earlier, I might have been a statistic.

Traveling in and out of the airports during that time period, passing walls and walls of photos of the missing and lost; I would sometimes pause, tracing a picture with my fingertips of a bracelet or a ring. These small mementos, begging to be found, hoping to lend a clue and lead a path to a lost loved one, broke my heart.

And even though my TSUNAMI BLUE SERIES is most certainly a work of pure fiction, an adventure of fictional characters, I took away from this real life experience, an underlying current. A theme, if you will. And that was, that even through all the sadness, all the tragedy, the resilience of the human spirit, of never ending hope for a better future, remained. I felt it in every hug I received; saw it in every shy smile. There it was. Hope.

Later, when I envisioned a lone woman, sitting by the ocean’s edge, listening to a message only she could hear, The TSUNAMI BLUE SERIES was born.

What was your favorite character to write in Tsunami Blue?
Even though I LOVED writing Gabriel Black, a man I hoped was every woman fantasy (he sure was mine), my favorite? Was Blue.

I love her innocence, her naivety brought about by her extreme isolation. And yet, she is fearless, strong, and brave. She struggles to do the right thing every day, guided by a strong moral compass that has nothing to do with the knives she wields, or the language she uses. In short, she is a good person, with a big heart, and I love that about her. If I was lost in a dangerous post-apocalyptic word, I would want Tsunami Blue to be my friend. My best friend.

Can you give us an idea of what’s in store for Blue in Riders On the Storm?
I’ve always envisioned a cast of quirky characters throughout the series, each with a new journey as they travel through this dangerous world that has been changed forever by the deadly tsunami waves. In RIDERS ON THE STORM, you will meet Sage Pasco, known as the Tracker, a beautiful young woman with a hidden, secret gift of her own. Along with her handful-of-a- kid sister, Sammie, they will play an important role in Blue’s life. And without giving away too much, Blue will find some closure in book two. Something that brought tears to my eyes when I wrote it.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
No. And yes. I LOVE music. My iPod is full, I blast music in the car and at home. Plus? I sing in the shower. Loudly. Badly. I’m in Las Vegas right now, and I search venues for live music every chance I get. Music inspires my stories, my characters and me.

But? When I write?
Silence. (Can you hear that pin drop?)
Always, silence. No music, no TV, no conversations, no writing in a busy coffee shop, (even though I’m addicted to espresso). I just can’t do it. I need quiet. And because I’m a night person, silence is fairly easy to come by. I like to chomp on something when I write, and rather it be my fingernails, I try to do something like raw carrots. But what I really want? Are M&Ms. Sigh.

What are some of your favorite authors or novels?
Edgar Allan Poe is my favorite author, simply because he influenced me at such an early age with his dark tales and heart pounding stories. And A WRINKLE IN TIME’s author Madeleine L ‘Engle. Who can forget Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which? And give me Anne Rice’s vampires any day . . . or night.

Also, I read as many of my writer friends as I can. I find it such fun to “see” and “hear” my friends in their work. I just love it.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
Like the rest of the world, I’m on a big YA surge right now. I just love these stories that speak to readers across all ages. I just finished CINDER by Marissa Meyer. Loved it. And I can’t say enough about THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater. Such beautiful, lyrical writing. And it takes place on an island, which I love. Right now, I’m reading DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, by Laini Taylor. In a word? Amazing.

When you’re not busy at work on your next book, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m a poker player. I love this game. It is so challenging, and there is so much strategy involved. It really is a game of skill, and it took me a number of years before I started to learn the subtleties and nuances, before I started to win. (And, no, I don’t always win, lol.) I spend a great deal of time in Las Vegas, honing my skills. But writing is my first passion, and always comes first.

If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Back to Cambodia.

First the country is beautiful. And even though it has a tragic past of violence and war that will tear at your soul, the people are still so resilient and welcoming. It is the home of the ruins of Angkor Watt. (Think Lara Croft, tomb Raider.) There are no words to describe seeing the temples in person. Breathtaking. Life changing.

But it was the people, especially the children that won my heart. I’ll never forget when our driver pulled the car over so I could get out and shake the hands of a group of kids and give hugs all around. When we left, he thanked me for, “What I did for his country that day.” I’ll never forget it. It was such a simple thing that meant so much.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to struggling writers?
This is your unique journey. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else, because there is only one of you. And the way you see the world, the way you tell your truth, will be unique to your writing and yours alone.
Keep learning your craft. That part? Never ends. Keep an open mine always, if enough people tell you the same thing, they could be right. But mostly, keep at it. No matter how long. You can do this. And it is worth it.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
Yes, there will be a third book in the TSUNAMI BLUE SERIES. The working title is RING OF FIRE. You can only guess what that involves, after all the San Juan Islands which are home to the series, are in the volcanic region of the Pacific NW, known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” The book’s theme? When a good girl, goes bad. . . Look for it late summer.

Kristin, thank you again for having me today. I love your site and your readers. This was such fun.

Keep up with Gayle: Website | Twitter
Read my review of Tsunami Blue!

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 signed copy of Tsunami Blue AND an ebook of Riders on the Storm by Gayle Ann Williams to 2 winners
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry
5. You must enter on or before 3/30/12
6. Giveaway book generously provide by the author.
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Early Review: Assassin’s Code (Joe Ledger #4) by Jonathan Maberry

Assassin’s Code (Joe Ledger #4) by Jonathan Maberry
St. Martins Press/April 10, 2012
Joe Ledger series
Kind thanks to St. Martins Press and NetGalley for providing a review copy

When Joe Ledger and Echo Team rescue a group of American college kids held hostage in Iran,the Iranian government then asks them to help find six nuclear bombs planted in the Mideast oil fields. These stolen WMDs will lead Joe and Echo Team into hidden vaults of forbidden knowledge, mass-murder, betrayal, and a brotherhood of genetically-engineered killers with a thirst for blood. Accompanied by the beautiful assassin called Violin, Joe follows a series of clues to find the Book of Shadows, which contains a horrifying truth that threatens to shatter his entire worldview. They say the truth will set you free… Not this time. The secrets of the Assassin’s Code will set the world ablaze.

Joe Ledger is back in the 4th thriller from Jonathan Maberry! I’m a huge fan of this series, and have loved every one, so I was eager to dive back into Joe’s world. The day after Joe and Echo Team rescue a group of college students held hostage in Iran, Joe is sitting in a coffee shop with a laser sight trained on his groin. He gets a call and a mysterious female voice gives him very specific instructions to meet a man in the coffee shop. It’s not like he has much choice. I mean, there are laser sights trained on his, er, man parts! Just a day in the life of our man Joe, yes? Trouble tends to follow Joe around, and he’s about to discover just what kind of trouble has found him, and it’s the worst yet…

Poor Joe. The author really puts him through the ringer in this one, physically and emotionally. A particularly nasty blast from Joe’s past is on the loose, vampires are running amok, an ancient order is bent on destruction, nuclear bombs are in the hands of mad men, and Joe can’t catch a break. Seriously, Joe is constantly fighting in this one, and it seems no place is safe. His loyal dog Ghost is always at his side, and even Ghost is run ragged. I think one thing I really love about Joe is that he’s willing to do what needs to be done, even if things get a bit unpleasant, and yet, all the while, he fights with himself, with the Warrior within who craves the fight. This struggle just makes an almost superhuman man seem more human and never fails to make me like him more. Of course Joe has the support of the DMS, and his boss, Mr. Church on his side, but he also acquires some unlikely allies, my favorite being in the form of a lethal assassin that calls herself Violin. I’m sincerely hoping we’ll see more of her in future books.

Assassin’s Code is mainly told in Joe’s voice, but there are Interludes and passages where the narrative takes us back to the 9th century, and the history behind an ancient, terrifying pact. Also, we get a bit of insight into the other players in the book. I’ll admit, while I enjoyed these passages, I was always eager to get back to Joe, Ghost, and Echo Team as they race to find the nukes and get the baddies. And the baddies in this one are really, really bad, and nearly take Joe down for the count, more than once. Maberry’s fight scenes are action packed, exciting, and written so well, I never had trouble picturing what was going on; Joe’s trademark snark is on full blast here (it will make you laugh, even when the bullets-stakes, holy water, garlic, etc-are flying), and the core of humanity that is ever present in these books is always just beneath the surface, even when you think things have gotten that bad. Things do get bad in this one, very bad, but have faith in Joe. When has he ever let us (or the world) down? The series just gets better and better, and I read Assassin’s Code in big gulps, frequently losing track of time. Highly recommended!

Pre-Order Assassin’s Code: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Add to Goodreads

Giveaway: Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

Hi gang! I’ve got one copy of Portrait of a Spy (Gabriel Allon #11) by Daniel Silva up for grabs, courtesy of Finn Partners. Check out my review, be sure to read the giveaway details after the description, and good luck!

About Portrait of a Spy:
It was supposed to be the start of a pleasant weekend in London for master art restorer and spy Gabriel Allon and his wife, Chiara. But a deadly pair of bombings in Paris and Copenhagen has already marred this lovely autumn day. Then, before he can stop a man he suspects is about to launch a third attack in Covent Garden, Gabriel is knocked to the pavement—and he can only watch helplessly as the nightmare unfolds.

The haunting memory of his failure to stop the massacre of innocents is still fresh when Gabriel is summoned to Washington—and plunged into a deadly confrontation with the new face of global terror. An elusive American- born cleric in Yemen—once a paid CIA asset whom Allah has granted “a beautiful and seductive tongue”—stands at the center of the explosive plague of death and destruction. And the worst is yet to come . . .

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US addresses ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry
5. You must enter on or before 3/27/12
6. Giveaway book generously provide by Finn Partners.
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Early Review: Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts #4) by Stacia Kane

Sacrificial Magic (Downside Ghosts #4) by Stacia Kane
DelRey/March 27, 2012
Urban Fantasy
Downside Ghosts series
Kind thanks to DelRey and NetGalley for providing a review copy

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss—who also happens to be her drug dealer—to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity: Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead—and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks.

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

REVIEW (This is #4 in a series, and I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, but the review assumes you’ve read the first 3)
In the 4th installment of Stacia Kane’s wonderful Downside Ghosts series, we get to see much deeper into Chess’ psyche than in any previous books, and to me, that was a wonderful thing. My favorite Churchwitch is still Debunking ghost claims, but this time, her dealer wants her to investigate a rash of fires that involve murder and magic, and his employees. Chess is forced to go to a school on the other side of town for answers, and her presence there is anything but welcome. It also doesn’t help that she’s on her ex’s territory, a fact that he’s very aware of. This really doesn’t help her current precarious relationship with Terrible and certainly keeps Chess on her toes. Then there’s the nasty ghost she has to contend with…

Like I said in the beginning, this was the most emotional of the series. Chess is not only navigating the nasty murders that are being committed, but she’s also navigating the unknown world of being loved; really and truly loved. Our favorite enforcer Terrible is firmly in the picture, but Chess can’t see past her own self-loathing in order to give everything she has to the relationship. It makes for frustrating reading, for sure, especially since we love Chess, and we want her to be happy. She steps on her own toes time and time again, to sometimes tragic effect. There’s one scene in here that will break your heart into a million pieces, and then some. However, Ms. Kane gives us some much needed insight (without being particularly graphic), into why Chess is so, so damaged, and that will break your heart too. It will also make you understand so much of why Chess is, well, Chess. We also get a little closer to some of the other characters, and the scenes with Elder Griffin are especially charming. Yes, charming. The author’s trademark tight plotting and prose are on full display here, and the killer in this one will give you chills (the ghost too *shudder*). This is a watershed book for Chess, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in the next book!

Pre-Order Sacrificial Magic: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Saturday Giveaway (& Excerpt): The Taker by Alma Katsu

Courtesy of the lovely folks at Simon and Schuster, I’ve got one copy of The Taker, by Alma Katsu up for grabs! Also, follow this link to read an excerpt of the book, and be sure to check out out the giveaway details. Good luck!

About The Taker:
A young doctor at a county hospital in the northernmost corner of Maine, in below-freezing temperature, is on duty when the police bring in a young woman, who allegedly killed a man and left his body in the north woods. Luke, the doctor, is strangely drawn to her, as she pleads with him to help her escape. As she begins to tell him her story, she grabs a scalpel and slices herself deeply across the chest. As Luke watches in horrified amazement, the sides of the cut creep together and heal themselves. So begins her story—a love affair that began 200 years before, when a ten-year-old Lanore McIlvrae first declared her love to Jonathan St. Andrew, son of the man who founded the settlement in northern Maine. Lanore became pregnant by Jonathan, was sent off to Boston in disgrace to have her baby, and was abducted by a Hungarian count, who lived a life of unbridled sensuality. Having given her the gift of eternal life, the count tells his story, which began in 1346 Hungary, where he was the apprentice to an evil alchemist who seduced and murdered virgins. Now, nearly two centuries later, their paths have crossed again with unexpected consequences….

Blending the allure of immortality with the occult, The Taker sweeps readers along a historical journey—each time period and setting as rich as the last.

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of The Taker by Alma Katsu to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry
5. You must enter on or before 3/24/12
6. Giveaway book generously provide by Simon and Schuster.
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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Giveaway Winners: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire and Darkness Undone by Jessa Slade

I’ve got winners for Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire and Darkness Undone by Jessa Slade! Thanks to everyone that entered!

Congrats to Julie Le!

*Winner was chosen by Rafflecopter, was notified via email, and has 48 hours to respond.

Signed Darkness Undone by Jessa Slade + SWAG!

Congrats to Sue Sattler!
*Winner was chosen via, has been notified, and has 48 hours to respond

Interview (& Giveaway): Christina Henry, author of Black Howl

I’m so happy to have Christina Henry back on the blog today to talk about her brand new book in the Black Wings series, Black Howl (feel free to check out my review)! Also, we’re giving away a copy of Black Howl to one lucky winner, so check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Christina to the blog!

Christina, book 3 of your awesome Black Wings series, Black Howl, just came out! Does it get easier to write each subsequent book in the series, or are there any particular challenges?
In some ways it does get easier, because the world and the characters are established. Once there is that base of understanding between me and the reader then as a writer I can just focus on the story and character development.

In another sense it gets more difficult because I want the story and characters to change dramatically in each book. So I’ve got to think up new and interesting ways to challenge Maddy and the gang.

I bet you‘ve been busy at signing events! What do you love most about interacting with your readers?
I love meeting fans of the series and hearing their opinions on the events and characters of the books. I spend so much time alone in my own head with these characters that it’s nice to get out and meet with people who love the stories as much as I do.

How have your writing habits changed since your first book came out?
When I wrote the first book I was trying to get all of my writing time done in the two hours that my son was napping.

Now I have a relatively luxurious five and a half hours to work while he’s at school. So it does help me feel a little more relaxed about the process. Of course, now I also have promotion and editing to do, which I didn’t have when I was writing the first book, so it’s a good thing I have extra time!

Do you have a character that you love writing just a little more than the rest?
Beezle is definitely the most fun to write. His dialogue is basically uncensored. He says whatever comes into his little gargoyle head.

What do you love the most about writing urban fantasy, and what/who would you say influences you the most in your writing?
I love creating monsters. I’ve always loved monster movies (some of my favorites – THE THING, THE HOST, JAWS) and it’s so much fun for me to think up some new and freaky creature for Maddy to deal with.

My favorite fantasy author, hands down, is Jim Butcher. I love the way he takes risks with his characters and his worlds. I try to do the same thing in my books. I always want readers feeling that something irrevocable has happened in every book.

What are you reading right now?
THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES by Siddhartha Mukherjee . It’s basically a biography of cancer. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking all at once.

If you could read any book again for the first time, which one would it be?
THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien. The first time I read that book I wanted to be a writer.

When you’re able to find some free time, what’s your favorite way to spend it?
I like to run, to read and to watch movies. On the weekends I like to go to museums with my family, or we go on long walks or bike rides if the weather is good.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
This year I’ll be writing books five and six of the BLACK WINGS series, and then after that I may have some time to start a new series – fingers crossed!

Thank you so much for having me here today!
Keep up with Christina: Website | Facebook

About Black Howl:
Something is wrong with the souls of Chicago’s dead. Ghosts are walking the streets, and Agent of Death Madeline Black’s exasperating boss wants her to figure out why. And while work is bad enough, Maddy has a plethora of personal problems too. Now that Gabriel has been assigned as her thrall, their relationship has hit an impasse. At least her sleazy ex-fiance Nathaniel is out of the picture–or so she thinks…

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Black Howl by Christina Henry to 1 winner
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry
5. You must enter on or before 3/23/12
6. Giveaway book generously provide by Ace.
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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