Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Throwback Review: Soulless

Throwback review from April 2014:

Soulless is the first in Gail Carriger’s alt-Victorian England steampunk humorous paranormal adult series The Parasol Protectorate.

I was recommended this book by a friend before I even had gotten a chance to read Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage (first book in the YA series The Finishing School that takes place in the same universe as The Parasol Protectorate). Once I’d read that and the second book in that series, Curtsies & Conspiracies, I knew I definitely wanted to read this series.

So, I took a leap, and bought the box set of all five books in this series at a good price.

A case of the Amazon.com bibliophile trigger finger, if you know what I mean.

Twenty-five year old Alexia Tarabotti has been ruled a spinster. She has many marks against her in English society. Her father is both Italian and dead – and she’s inherited his darker coloring and more exotic looks.

She also has no soul.

Not that that is any one’s business, of course. Only the paranormal society of werewolves and vampires and Queen Victoria herself know this, and prefer to keep it quiet.

Because this particular ailment is very, very rare and cancels out supernatural abilities when she touches them. The general public has accepted werewolves and vampires, but would they accept someone having no soul at all? They’d just rather keep it hush-hush.

While at a private ball, and quite bored, Alexia steps into another room for a snack – as fare was promised but not delivered and that, in Miss Tarabotti’s opinion, is disgraceful to someone with her appreciation for food.

Within moments a vampire completely lacking in normal vampiric niceties and decorum attempts to attack her, and, well…

She accidentally kills him.

Lord Maccon, the large, undeniably attractive, booming and uncouth werewolf investigator, is sent to investigate. Before she knows it, Alexia finds herself wrapped up in a mystery in which unexpected vampires are appearing and expected vampires are disappearing.

Finally she has something interesting to do…

Soulless started quick, fun and instantly felt fresh and inventive.

With the quick swooping in of gorgeous Lord Maccon, there’s definitely sexual tension that sizzles cheerfully early on. And the jovial absurdity that I found in The Finishing School series thus far is most definitely evident.

I find the supernatural politics and protocol (such as vampires living in a “hive” with a “queen” and “drones”) quite fascinating. And Alexia’s ability is unusual in its negating of the paranormal beings is different.

Soulless is addictive, fun, spicy and oh-so-quotable. It’s spirited, sexy in a light, amusing way, witty, clever and ENTERTAINING. With bright, interesting characters and an unusual plot (plus hot supernatural romance and steampunk, thankyouverymuch), I loved it from start to finish!!!

This is the type of book you just have FUN reading. Even though the more, ahem, indelicate scenes do pepper the novel a tad, the comedy in them and lack of excessive detail made them bearable to me beyond just feeling, well, distasteful as most of those less proper scenes usually do.

I was immediately ready for book two and happy I had it at the ready!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Throwback Review: Every Day


Throwback review!

Every Day is a YA contemporary fantasy novel by David Levithan.

Every morning A wakes up and is in a new body. They’re always A’s age, currently sixteen, but they can be male or female, plump or thin. Anybody.

It has always been this way.

Over the years A has accepted this. A works to make sure the day is seamless in the life of the body A’s inhabiting that day, tries not to get noticed, and definitely does not get attached.

That was the hardest part when A was younger.

But when A wakes up as Justin one morning he meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon.

Something about her changes everything. The rule about staying detached and not reaching beyond the personality realms of the person A’s occupying no longer matter.

Here is someone A wants to be with – day in, day out, day after day. Every day.

But A has no control over whatever A is. Tomorrow A will be somewhere else…

As someone who reads a LOT, I have to say that this premise kind of blew my mind. Not just the initial idea of it, either, but the way David Levithan executes it is… stunning.

You can never get past the fact that the plot is fascinating and original, because new revelations about it, primarily on an emotional level, keep piling up in a lyrical, delicate manner.

There’s a melancholy, lonely tone that drew me in and made me yearn desperately for A’s happiness. Every Day is unexpectedly suspenseful, searingly raw, and encapsulates both a beautiful innocence and a striking astuteness.

Now, I am not a seeker of LGBT novels and because I’m sure some of you may not be either, I will disclose that Every Day features a character that is really neither boy nor girl because of what A is. A also shows up in bodies that are at times heterosexual and at times homosexual.

Except for just a few brief moments, I never felt that David Levithan really had any kind of agenda or mission to get up on a platform on the many issues and opinions related to such a topic. So, this didn’t bother me too much. I let go the times I felt he went further than necessary.

In fact, there’s a sweet tenderness to the way each life is played out – a tolerance that no matter where we stand we should agree with. So, though those situations weren’t always what I’d prefer, I felt the kindness and good-hearted core trump anything else.

Every Day is in many ways heartbreaking. But it also has an inspirational, hopeful feel that is addictive. I read this book so quickly!

With startling twists, never-ending surprises, and a profound sense of emotional depth, Every Day is a book that stays with you. It’s different from anything I’ve ever read before.

There’s more I would say if I weren’t concerned about spoiling anything for you. So, I’ll leave it with this:

Wow. I want more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Guest Post with Author Bryce Gibson!



I was a teenager during the 1990s.

I loved horror movies and reading horror books (I still do, but this post is about then not now).

For a quick reading fix, I, along with countless others that were my age, would often turn to the line of Point Horror novels that were published by Scholastic. Those of us that had a desire to write our own stories tried our hands at crafting books that we thought were along the same line as those that we read (you can find a few of mine on my Facebook page). Anyway, one of the things that has always stood out the most about Point Horror are the covers. Many of the titles started with the word “The”. Here is a picture of a few of the ones that I own…


The Waitress, The Invitation, The Train...See what I mean? Another thing about the covers that stood out was the tongue-in-cheek, campy artwork and taglines. I know that the taglines are hard to read in the above photo so I typed them out for you here: “The customer is always wrong...dead wrong”, “A party like no other”, and “A one-way ticket...to terror”. Great, right?

It was only natural for any horror obsessed teen to draw his or her own covers for the books that they wrote. Here is one that I did...


 Now, there’s something funny about Double Date (besides the fact that the title doesn’t start with that three letter word that begins with the letter “T”). You see, I never wrote a story to accompany the cover! It is evident to me now that I was just as excited about the cover art, titles, and taglines of the books as I was with the stories. In fact, a whole slew of storyless covers ensued over the next couple of years, some of which I’m sharing with you today. I think I drew most of these somewhere between 1992 and 1995.

And it wasn’t just books that influenced my imagination. While many horror movie fans consider the 90s to be kind of a dull decade for the genre, I know that the movies that were released during that timeframe have been an enormous influence on my writing, even today. As you’ll see, there were certain horror movies that obviously sparked my creativity.

The 90s saw a good bit of technological/electricity based horror, a la Ghost in the Machine and Brainscan. These are but a couple of the flicks that had to have been an inspiration for this beauty of a cover...   

(image by Bryce Gibson)

Another sub-genre that was popular back in the day was dark comedies/horror comedies--Buffy the Vampire Slayer, My Boyfriend’s Back, Death Becomes Her, and Prom Night III, just to name a few. I think that kind of thing just might have had something to do with these...

 
(images by Bryce Gibson)

There were also a lot of psychological/obsession thrillers during this particular time frame. I loved The Crush (again with the “The”). In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, The Crush seemed to draw heavily from many of the Point Horror novels. Movies like The Crush, Poison Ivy, and The Ties That Bind were the kind of thriller/horror crossover flicks that they don’t seem to make any more. Here are a couple of my ideas...


(images by Bryce Gibson)

And let’s not forget the bevy of monster movies and sequels that I rented from the movie store, many of which were released straight to video.


(images by Bryce Gibson)

As you see, the horror movies and books of the 90s surely set a tone for me as a writer and creator. They fed me ideas. I know that the horror genre and all of its silly and crazy sub-genres that I seem to prefer have influenced my storytelling to no end. Nowadays, the horror in my stories is not always done in an explicit, hit-you-over-the-head kind of way, but certain elements of the genre are in everything that I write. I can’t help it. I love it.

Even typing this, I’m nostalgic for the titles that I’ve listed here and the other, unrelated ones that, for no particular reason, come to mind along with them--Dr. Giggles, Pet Sematary Two, Demon Knight; Candyman, Pumpkinhead 2, Children of the Corn 2, 3, 4, 5; okay, I’ll stop.

I can vividly picture all of the awesome VHS artwork for every movie that I’ve mentioned. Like the Point Horror books, the covers were the first things that drew me in. The cover was what made me pick it up in the first place. There was a great amount of excitement that came from just seeing the book or movie on the shelf.

Speaking of, I’m pretty darn sure that my black t-shirt wearing teenaged self would have snatched this one up in a heartbeat…


(Note: Perennials cover design not by me. Thank you to the talented CL Smith for this one.)

You can purchase the paperback or ebook of Perennials from Amazon

Follow me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Throwback Review: The Springsweet

Throwback review fro June 2012!

The Springsweet is a YA historical paranormal novel, and a companion to The Vespertine, by Saundra Mitchell.

I warned you yesterday that my reviews were going to be sequels for a few days! If you haven’t read The Vespertine, you definitely want to avoid this review and seek it out after you’re done. Don’t ruin your experience!!! Instead, read my review of The Vespertine here.

Last chance to turn away…

Zora Stewart hasn’t been the same since her sixteenth summer. She’s haunted by her fiancés death and the amount of other losses in those few short months. She’s a shell of her former self, and her parents are worried.

After an attempt to reorient Zora to Baltimore society goes scandalously wrong, it’s decided that she’ll join her widowed aunt in Oklahoma Territory in the hopes of some good old-fashioned hard work waking her back up to life.

It doesn’t take long for Zora to see that the exciting, thrill-ride of an adventure the papers make the West out to seem is a far cry from the truth. It’s a dusty, heartbreaking, backbreaking area to live – and it seems to stir something inside of Zora that she’s never experienced. She begins to sense the water beneath the ground – as though she’s getting a power of her own after watching her cousin Amelia use her own strange abilities to predict and prophesize.

But she saw the dangers that came of Amelia’s power – and though she allows her struggling aunt to hire her out as a “springsweet” to help people find the water they so desperately need in this merciless land, deep down she knows it may all come tumbling down on her.

Yet amidst all of this, Zora is shocked to find herself drawn to a wholly unsuitable, rough-mannered young man named Emerson Birch in a way she thought she’d never be again after her beloved Thomas’ death. Her aunt prefers Zora to focus on Theo, the surprising visitor from her hometown, who has come to court her. Nevertheless, the more Zora learns about Emerson the more she’s attracted…

For the first time, Zora wonders if she can do more than survive life… Maybe she could begin to live life.

The Vespertine, for me, was an incredibly hypnotic, dark story that pulled me into its expressive splendor. Getting the chance to revisit Zora, who has a big character in that, was wonderful.

The Springsweet started a little slow, but there’s a vibe of enigma that held me and a fiery attraction that pulls Zora unwillingly out of her mourning and into a realization of her own powers. Unlike The Vespertine, which even in its leisurelier, earlier moments would switch to a future moment that provided such an disquieting sensation that you would be pulled back into its gothic hold, The Springsweet takes it’s time to really develop a plot – but I was patient, as I knew that it wasn’t until the end of The Vespertine that I was fully won over.

I was, and am, taken with Saundra Mitchell’s way of introducing these elemental-like powers tied to fire, air, earth, and water. She makes it gritty and frightening how it can affect the world around them and cause a moment of utter devastation. The Springsweet may have been gradual to show how that was true for Zora, but once it did that ominous tone really kicked in. With that and both the passion of her burgeoning romance and the wild beauty of their magic becoming more vivid, I became more mesmerized.

In my opinion, The Springsweet takes a bit more patience – I’d say to hang in there to about the middle – but it is definitely a worthy, if perhaps a little less gothic and dark as, The Vespertine.

I’ll be looking for more from Saundra Mitchell!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Throwback Review: Madame Tussaud

Throwback review from April 2012!

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution is an adult historical fiction title by Michelle Moran.

Marie Tussaud has learned the art of wax sculpting from her uncle, whom she works alongside at the Salon de Cire, their wax museum. She has an impeccable eye for it, and their patrons often are amazed at how lifelike their models of popular heroes from the American Revolution like Thomas Jefferson are. Many also come to see the royal family in different moments of their luxe lives.

Yet, the Salon is also a place of gossip and news – so Marie soon begins to realize just how much people’s opinions of the royal family are changing. She knew already, of course, that there are many starving and having much financial difficulty – mostly due to famine and a heavy tax burden the lower classes must bear for the higher ones – but in December of 1788 she is starting to see the anger…

Still determined to keep the Salon open and active, creating new sculptures that reflect the days, news and desires, Marie is given a front view seat of the budding French Revolution all the way through the Reign of Terror.

Her skills may be her survival among the chaos – but how many others will perish?

Madame Tussaud spans five years and covers a ton of historical ground. Michelle Moran effortlessly weaves in numerous notable names like Robespierre, Lafayette, the Marquis de Sade (*shudder*), and the royal family. She manages to bring them all through the novel in an elegant, believable manner – mixing history and fact impeccably with a story that feels real and alive. Excellent!

I’ve always been fascinated by the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette, etc. It’s such a terrifying piece of history, full of so much tragedy and madness. Michelle Moran gave us a unique perspective from Madame Tussaud’s point of view. I was truly floored.

First we have a prologue that is full of unspoken memories and a haunted past during one of history’s darkest periods. I was intrigued immediately. We are given an upfront look at the makings of a vengeful, violent revolution while following an ambitious, business-focused career woman in the successful Marie Tussaud.

Madame Tussaud is a riveting novel of the heartbreaking, horrifying fall of a monarchy from an achingly personal view, felt on a personal level. It’s suspenseful and frightening as tyranny rules, utterly disturbing, bloody, and chilling with few (but momentous) moments of hope, happiness, and love for Marie.

What we have here is a magnificent page turner that is, yes, oftentimes so nightmarish and horrifying it turns the stomach, with few happy endings. See, you feel like you are living it with Marie - which is not exactly fun, but truly absorbing and utterly memorable. Incredibly written. It highlights the ridiculousness, madness and danger of mob-rule and leaves you speechless.

As someone who usually reads YA, I do sometimes venture out – especially for historical fiction. I must say that I think readers of YA need to pick up Madame Tussaud. Though it is disquieting and sometimes graphic with the violence, so are many YA novels. This, however, also gives you history and an insanely good read – both of which any bibliophile can agree is an excellent combination.

No matter what you’re regular genre of choice is, Madame Tussaud is phenomenal, stunning, and absolutely unforgettable.

I will be more than ready to read Michelle Moran’s next novel, The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court, when it comes out!!!

In fact – I wish it was available right now! If she writes all her books with such passion, detail, and complete attention-grabbing anxiety, I want to read everything she’s written! How about you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Throwback Review: The Thirteenth Tale

A throwback review from March 2014. This remains one of my FAVORITE books! Check it out: 

The Thirteenth Tale is an adult contemporary novel with a classic gothic mystery feel by Diane Setterfield.

Oh. My. Gosh. This book is fantastic!!!

Margaret Lea leads a quiet, book-loving life that all of us bibliophiles would adore – working in a book store and whiling away the hours reading.

Her passion for literature extends to a fascination with non-fiction. She loves letters, journals – anything that ties her to people who are now deceased. Margaret has even written a few minor biographies on lesser known figures.

When she receives a letter from one of the most famous contemporary authors of the day, Vida Winter, she’s floored to discover that Ms. Winter wants her to write her biography.

For years, Vida has given numerous, glittering stories when asked about her life.

Not one of them true.

Apparently now, old and ailing, she wants to finally tell her story.

Unable to deny her curiosity, Margaret joins Vida at her reclusive estate and starts a routine of hearing Vida’s life stories in the library.

The tale is full of madness, strangeness and a gothic mystery that Margaret is enthralled in.

And with the telling Vida and Margaret both find they must equally confront the ghosts of their pasts, and the deep pain lying there…

Oh, my description can’t even do The Thirteenth Tale justice!!! I might as well just give up!

This is now one of my favorite books. Just as the blurbs say on the inside and outside jacket cover – this novel harkens to novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca in its excellent gothic vibe, yet manages to be a contemporary novel.

Diane Setterfield writes with such a poetical, entrancing language that pulled me in and very quickly started to wrap me up in intrigue, mystery and book-loving wonderfulness.

I loved reading about a character who loved reading as much as I do!

My bibliophile heart was quickly being tugged with lovely, silkily-woven prose and disturbing, eerie tales of the past.

Book magnetism, indeed!!!

The Thirteenth Tale is effective, haunting, and stayed on my thoughts constantly. It’s undeniably addictive and absorbing.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED everything about it!!!

Twists, tingles, edge-of-your-seat mystery, emotional, shocking, amazing – PERFECT!

The Thirteenth Tale was stunning in every way – and I will recommend it to EVERYONE!!!

Now, this is a novel with adult, disquieting themes at times – but at its heart is a human mystery, a beautifully written, powerful gothic novel to be adored, relished, and re-read!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Throwback Reviw: Crocodile on the Sandbank


A throwback review from May 2013! Enjoy!

Crocodile on the Sandbank is the first in the humorous historical Amelia Peabody Mystery series by Elizabeth Peters.

Independently wealthy and ready for an adventure, Amelia Peabody, Victorian spinster of thirty-two, embarks on a trip to Egypt.

Armed with all the necessities – unwavering self-confidence, sharp intelligence, and a pointy parasol – Amelia embarks and finds herself utterly enthralled with the landscape and history.

As she is ready to travel to Cairo, though, she ends up rescuing the young and lovely Evelyn Barton-Forbes, a fellow Englishwoman left disgraced and alone – abandoned by the lover that estranged her from her grandfather, ready to end it all.

Well, Amelia certainly can’t have that. Especially when the lady has been so wronged! So, instead of letting the girl go off herself she employs her as a companion and sets off to sail the Nile with her by her side.

The trip is turning decidedly enjoyable.

When they reach an archeological site ran by the Emerson brothers – one sweet and gentlemanly, the other an ogre of a man with a wit to match Amelia’s – their party is halted as a rather absorbing mystery takes place.

It appears that a mummy is haunting the dig.

Amelia is certainly going to stick around to figure that one out.

Crocodile on the Sandbank was originally released back in 1975. If it weren’t for a bookish friend that told me about it, I may have missed this delightful novel! So, I definitely wanted to make sure all of you knew about it! It’s never too late to grab up a copy, after all.

Whenever I hear of a Victorian mystery, I’m there! But when you add a headstrong, clever, unpredictable and hilarious heroine like our Amelia here? Why, you can’t keep me away!!!

The first person narration is just SO fun as we sop up Amelia’s consistently droll, amusing tone. We get enough background and history of the character to very much appreciate her and feel that it’s not too much of a stretch for this woman to be a result of this exhilarating era.

Plus, Evelyn and the Emerson brothers get enough dialogue and story to become fully lively, likable characters themselves! The exotic locales sparkle with just enough detail, the fascination with antiquities buzzes, and the mystery slowly but surely come into light with a mix of curiosity, minor creepiness, and hilarity. I’ll say it again: FUN!!!

I was happily surprised by all the twists and truly pleased with the excellent chemistry that sneaks up and sizzles between Amelia and… Are you kidding?! I’m not gonna give it away!

There are a gazillion books in this series at this point – to be more accurate, about nineteen.

I will enthusiastically be obtaining as many more as I can, as quickly as I can! How about you?

Read Crocodile on the Sandbank, you fool! :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Throwback Review: Extraordinary*

A throwback review from July 2012! I hope you all had a wonderful July 4th!!!

Extraordinary* the true story of my fairy godparent, who almost killed me and certainly never made me a princess is a YA urban fantasy humor novel by Adam Selzer.

Straight-A, Shakespeare-lover Jennifer just wants to chill out during her senior year. She’s already been accepted to a college that is of high-standing in Iowa and she’s ready to relax after all the hard work.

Also, she wants to start taking steps toward being the eccentric, cool woman she aspires to be. First step? Color her hair purple. She loves purple. Second step? Finally go to a school dance by getting the relatively cute guy in her Human/Post-Human Alliance group to ask her – and hope that helps her get over her absurdly long crush on Mutual Scrivener whom she hasn’t seen since sixth grade when he mysteriously disappeared with his parent’s overnight.

Pathetic? Yeah.

The next events in Jennifer’s story have been sorely misrepresented by Eileen Codlin’s horrifically inaccurate Born to Be Extraordinary. This is supposedly a portrayal of Jennifer’s soon-to-arrive fairy godmother and how she became a princess.

Princess? Ha ha.

It did not happen like that. First of all, there was no sparkly, kind, frou-frou fairy godmother. He was a sloppy, unkempt, odious little man named Gregory Grue – and he preferred to be called a fairy godmofo.

And he almost killed her. This is the TRUE story of Jennifer’s “magical” senior year…

Extraordinary is truly a hilarious novel, and a breath of fresh air!

This is a wacky, inventive, unpredictable fairy-tale taking place in an alternative, contemporary Iowa setting where vampires are an accepted truth – the principal is one! – and zombies attacked the prom. Then we have Jennifer with her chubby, intellectual, clever, relatable ordinary-ness.

Sadly, the cover of Extraordinary really misrepresents Jennifer. It gives off a more little-kid, Disney movie poster feel with a thin girl with brown hair! Not the case at all! Not only does Jennifer look totally different, but the tone is far more older-teen oriented – and funnier than it looks.

We get hysterical snippets of Born to Be Extraordinary, the false book based on Jennifer’s experiences, which is a satirical, laugh-out-loud terrible idea of a “typical” teen book.

Extraordinary was unique, fast-paced and very, very fun – providing chuckles, hee-haws, giggles, and snorts! It’s imaginative, entertaining, and surprisingly morbid. I really, really liked it!

Adam Selzer creates a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a story that plays with the clichés and tired plotlines that have been recycled over and over. Plus, the cast of secondary characters are vibrant and amusing as well!

I recommend it for sure!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Throwback Review: Cleopatra's Moon


Throwback Review from 2012!

Cleopatra's Moon is a YA historical fiction by Vicky Alvear Shecter.

Cleopatra Selene is a princess. She is the only daughter of the revered, intelligent Cleopatra and the Roman General Marcus Antonius. Her people love her and her twin brother Alexandros, as well as their adorable little brother Ptolly. They are the picture of a happy, beautiful family for a people to look up to.

And Cleopatra Selene has every intention of being just as powerful and brilliant a queen as her mother.

But before that day even comes close the Roman ruler, Octavianus, sets out to destroy Cleopatra. At least that is how he is spinning it. Calling her a witch, a whore, and worse. He's determined to turn the people against her as he slowly gains approval for dismantling all that Cleopatra Selene's ever known and loved.

Events turn horrifying, and after experiencing immense loss of life Cleopatra Selene and her brothers are taken to Octavianus's palace in Rome - a place of enemies.

Yet as Cleopatra Selene grows older she has but one goal in sight: regain Egypt's rule and become a queen that would have made her mother proud.

Cleopatra's Moon stunned me. I've always been interested in Cleopatra - as many people have. But I've never heard much about her daughter, or anyone else she left behind after dying. Vicky Alvear Shecter fixes that here. Sure, this is historical fiction - so some characters only exist in our author's mind, and certain events are having to be imagined from a personal perspective we have no real knowledge of - but the basis of the story is truth, and Vicky Alvear Shecter clearly knows her facts!

Thing is though, Cleopatra's Moon is no historical text. This is not a lesson in ancient history. This is a raw, riveting, fascinating, alive telling of Cleopatra Selene and the turbulent time she grew up in. The crackling detail and the characters are riveting and three-dimensional. I was absolutely hooked from start to finish, and every painful moment in the middle.

That's another point to make on Cleopatra's Moon - it's often horrifying. Shecter doesn't shy away from the anguishing, stark representation of the bloody deaths of family members. The brutal overtaking of the kingdom is enough to make you sick to your stomach, but also sit back in awe at Shecter's undeniable skill at effecting our emotions. Because with such realism and honesty in the face of terrors, what can we do but identify with Cleopatra Selene? Especially as she is heartbreakingly young as she witnesses all of this.

Cleopatra's Moon is a disturbing, suspenseful, powerful journey. Reading it puts you right there in the midst of the unimaginable. The mourning, the brutality, the betrayal, the hurt and the fear are all both difficult to read - yet gripping.

I applaud Vicky Alvear Shecter for reminding me of what I love about well-done, respectful historical fiction! This novel is alluring, captivating, romantic, shocking and overwhelming. In the end, I had tears in my eyes! What a beautiful, wonderful book!!!

BONUS REVIEW:
I want to acknowledge that today is Halloween by mentioning another drawing book! Many of us bibliophiles have a creative streak, or know someone who does, and can find good use in do-it-yourself fun. And this one is in keeping with today's holiday. What's it called? Why, it is How to Draw Chiller Monsters, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies!

J. David Spurlock is the author and it features the artwork of numerous artists, as well as a foreword by Rob Zombie. This instructional book focuses on many different styles and breaks the steps down into specifics: structure, lighting, perspective, etc. They are pretty creepy, detailed illustrations done by very talented people.

So, if you are interested in nurturing your own talent and learning new tricks, pick up a copy of How to Draw Chiller Monsters, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies!

See you guys on Wednesday and have a Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Spotlight: Ninth City Burning

This upcoming September, keep your eyes open for this red and orange cover! Ninth City Burning is the first in a new epic science fiction series from the debut novelist J. Patrick Black.

As all best books are, it has a YA and mainstream crossover audience appeal. And if that doesn't whet your appetite enough already, below you'll find an excerpt and some additional info!



Excerpt

The Valentine War, Earth 500 Years Ago
It starts with the world how it used to be, with countries and billions of people living everywhere. Back then there was no such thing as thelemity, and people built houses and machines sort of like they have in settlements today, but all of that changed when the Valentines came.

The reason we call them the Valentines is that the day they first attacked, February 14 on the old Western Calendar, was called “Valentine’s Day”. We still don’t know what the Valentines call themselves, because we’ve never been able to talk to them. We don’t even know what they look like. People had all sorts of different names for them early in the war, but “Valentine” is the one that ended up being the most popular. It used to mean something totally different, but not many people remember that now.

We never saw them coming. All at once cities just started disappearing. A city would be there, everything totally normal, and then it would be gone, nothing but rubble and a cloud of dust. By the time we figured out we were under attack, half the cities in the world had already been destroyed. We tried to fight back, but the Valentines had thelemity, and our strongest weapons were next to useless. They probably would have killed every single person on the planet, except for one thing: It turned out we could use thelemity too.


Cover Copy

Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut...

We never saw them coming. 

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy's tactics are changing, and Earth's defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.

Cast of Characters

JAX: A cadet at the Academy and the youngest fontanus in Ninth City. With the ability to harness thelemity, Jax must stand for all citizens during Valentine attacks and act as the only defense between the city and complete destruction. 

NAOMI: The youngest sister in the Ochre family, and a member of the nomadic Walker tribe. Naomi longs to be a scout like her older sister, Rae, but her undiscovered gifts will take her down a different path, far away from the life she knows. 

RAE: The beautiful, impulsive leader of the Ochre family and a scout for the Walker tribe. Rae’s penchant for bravery and lack of fear plunge her into a new world, where her strength will be tested in ways she never imagined. 

TORRO: A factory worker in Settlement 225, which provides supplies and soldiers to the Legion’s war effort. Torro’s uncomplicated life is suddenly disrupted when he finds himself drafted as cannon fodder and shipped away to the horror of the front lines. 

VINNEAS: Procurator of the Academy, responsible for every cadet at the school of Grammar and Rhetoric. Part of being Procurator is being prepared for command in combat, but an unwelcome promotion sends him to active duty sooner than he expects.

IMWAY: The top ranked warrior in the Equites Aspirant, the most elite fighting unit in the Academy. Highly skilled in combat, Imway’s power stems from a suit of armor called ‘equus’ and the ego that comes with it stands the chance of ruining any relationship he has.

KIZABEL: The most sought after Artifex—a creator of artifices—at the Academy. Her most recent project violates many rules, and Kizabel faces expulsion or incarceration if caught. But her project will revolutionize equus design, if she can only get it running.

Together, this unlikely group of allies will face a mysterious enemy and a war that has brought their world to the brink of destruction.