Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book review: Zombie-saurus Rex

Being a teenager is tough as it is. Now imagine you are a zombie. That's the premise of the wildly imaginative young adult novel Zombie-saurusRex by Mark Souza.

Here's the description:

Rex Morton, a seventeen year-old zombie, has arrived in the small farming town of Plain View, Nebraska; just another stop in a long string of small towns left behind in their rear view mirror. Unlike the zombie stereotype, Rex is bright and friendly - as long as he doesn't get hungry. He hopes this time he can manage to stick around long enough to get his diploma. Rex’s fiercely protective mother has strong-armed yet another school district into accepting her son by threatening a discrimination lawsuit. At Plain View High, a dismal pattern of fear, prejudice, and bullying steers Rex down a familiar path toward expulsion. The difference this time is that Rex has fallen for fiery Goth girl, Ariella Klopenstein, the daughter of the Police Chief, and decided he will make his stand in Plain View. As the Z-virus spreads west and the country panics, Rex and Ariella must find a way to overcome Rex’s mother who wants to break them apart and flee town, a school principal who wants Rex expelled, Ariella’s father, the Police Chief, who thinks Rex is dangerous, and a government zombie round-up aimed at solving the zombie problem once and for all. 
Zombie-saurus Rex is a story about perseverance, overcoming prejudice, stereotypes and adversity. What it isn't is a story about dinosaurs. The title is inspired by a nickname a school bully hangs on Rex due to his size, posture, and slow plodding gate. 
Since I am not the target audience, I gave it to my 11 year-old daughter. Here's her 5- star review.
I enjoyed the book very much it kept me interested the whole time. It was a great mix of action and comedy, and the style of the writing wasn't confusing or unclear, which is very good for me. I loved the personality of the characters and how different and interesting they are.
I was kind of bummed that Rex's dad didn't show up somewhere to get Rex and his mom to forgive him.
I was apprehensive to give her this one, because she's still at that anti-romance age (and that cover makes the book look steamier than it actually is).  One of her school assignments is to read 20 minutes a day. Every time she picked up this book, she went well over her 20 minutes. (And no calls from the other room: "Mom, has it been 20 minutes yet?") So although she wasn't terribly verbose with this review, but I know she really loved it.

You can find out more about Mark's really interesting (and not-just-for-kids) books on his website, Tweet at him,  and find him on Facebook.

Mark is hosting an awesome $50 Amazon gift card giveaway. Be sure to enter!
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Monday, April 6, 2015

Author Interview: Amy Boyles (Rendered)

YOU GUYS! I have a awesome interview today with Amy Boyles, and we’re talking about her book RENDERED which seriously had me at hello.

Here's the official description:

Ten years ago, Drian Becker underwent the Rendering, a humiliating body exam imposed upon the masses by her father, a commander in the Patriot Army. Being a high ranking official’s daughter, Drian thought she was safe from the practice—not so. Her father’s betrayal left her emotionally scarred and dishonored. 
It’s now 2098. Drian hasn’t thought about the Rendering since she became leader of a rebel faction—mostly because she’s an expert at hiding her feelings behind a thick outer wall of badass attitude.  
All that changes when Colvin Hinton walks into her camp. With his easy swagger and even easier demeanor, Colvin makes being a rebel look good enough to taste. But when Drian finds herself tangled in his charms she lets down her guard, giving an old enemy the chance to take her out once and for all.  
If loving a man is this dangerous, would Drian have been better off remaining in the clutches of her father and living with the scars of being RENDERED?

It’s got a great set up, a creepy world, and a kick ass heroine and a smokin’ hot hero. So let’s get to it! (PS: Giveaway at the bottom of the post! Go and enter!) 

Tell us a bit about RENDERED.

Sure thing. The year is 2099. All the oil is gone. So is the United States government as we know it. It’s been replaced by a faction called the Patriot Party, a group that maintains control of the people by imprisoning anyone who speaks out against them and by subjecting young women to the Rendering, a physical exam that you either pass or fail. Pass it and you’ll marry well, most likely to someone the party has picked out for you. Fail and you’ll be removed from all good society. 

RENDERED follows Drian, a rebel who’s failing miserably at leading her group of people. Her band is on the verge of mutiny when Colvin, a rebel from a neighboring group, appears with a solution to her problem—all she has to do is trust him. That’s easier said than done. Drian’s been burned by those she’s loved and trusted before and wants to avoid it happening again at all costs. But her attraction to Colvin is impossible to ignore. Can Drian give herself over to passion without getting attached? 

Can you explain what a “rendering” is? What sparked the idea for a “rendering”? And is it something only forced on the women? 

Simply put, the Rendering is a virginity test. Doesn’t sound that bad, right? However, the procedure is used as a tool to determine what happens next to the young woman. Pass the exam (be found whole) and you bring respect to your family. Fail and you humiliate them. The Patriot Party also uses this as a means of controlling the masses—after all, you have no choice but to allow your daughter go through with the test. If a mother or father decided to speak against the party at the time their daughter was being rendered, she might not return to them in one piece. 

What sparked the idea? I have no clue. It just came to me in the middle of writing UNLIKELY REBEL, book one in the Dark Revolution series (of which RENDERED is book two). 

I love rebel factions! Can you tell us a bit more about the rebels Drian joins? What are they trying to overthrow?

So the rebels want to overthrow the Patriot Party. Since the party has come into power, not only have they mandated the Rendering, but they’ve also forced people to dress from the time period of the American Revolution, outlawed weapons and rationed food. People who live in cities and towns must line up daily to receive their ration of bread, cheese or whatever is available that day. People have very little to hope for in this world that they no longer control. 

This book has a real post-apocalyptic ring to it. Are you drawn to post-apocalyptic themes? If so, do you have any ideas why?

That’s a good question. I never considered writing anything post-apocalyptic until this idea came to me. I generally write fantasy or contemporary novels. Once the idea for this series hit me, I felt I needed to get it out. 

What are you working on now? Any new books on the horizon?

I’m currently writing book four in the Dark Revolution series. In this book, girls who fail the Rendering are sent to a place called the Hold, which is part workhouse/part hell. There, we meet a woman named Tess who knows a secret that could ruin the Patriot Party. But will she be able to share it with the right people before the party finds her and kills her? You’ll just have to read it to find out.  

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes, I make a cup of coffee before I start writing every morning. Every single day I drink that cup as I work. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My kitchen table. I have a couple of desks but there’s something about the space that table affords that I like the most. 

What inspires you to write? 

Knowing that one day I will be able to quit my day job. That inspires me. Also, great characters living inside my head fighting to get out. 

What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now?

Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Revival by Stephen King

What do you recommend people see/read/hear?

That depends on the person and what their interests are. If you live in a city with an active theater community—go see plays. Hear how people talk to one another. Go sit in a subway or airport and watch people. See how one person’s movements affect another person’s. Eat awesome food. Read whatever you want, but if you like fantasy read Mistborn, if you like romance, read Pride and Prejudice, if you like suspense, ask someone else because I’m not well versed in that genre.

Amy is giving away three copies of RENDERED and two $10 Amazon gift cards. Enter below! 

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I've Been To A Marvellous Party

Life is playing a giant April fool on me. It’s snowing. Again. And I’ve caught a nasty cold. To get rid of my funk, I came up with the literary cocktail party guest list of my dreams. The only rule was the writers had to be alive. 

Welcome to my cocktail party! 

I am drinking Richard Kadrey under the table. William Gibson is in the back room, being antisocial. Kalayna Price is petting the cat. You can’t throw a party without inviting J.K. Rowling, but she’s there only on the condition that we don’t mention Harry Potter. JR Ward shows up in a dominatrix outfit. Chuck Palahniuk is giving boxing lessons in the back yard. Jodi Picoult is the person everyone wants to hang out with. Jennifer Weiner is telling the best jokes, while Jack Ketchum and Chuck Hogan are creeping everyone out. 

And we are all yelling at George RR Martin to go home and finish the next damn Song of Fire and Ice book. 

This is my brain on NyQuil. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review: SILK by Chris Karlsen

Contest lovers should read to the bottom. Not only is there a Rafflecopter giveaway but the author is giving away one Kindle copy of SILK for each tour stop, including this one!

Historical fiction is tough. You have to research your time period within an inch of its life. Readers that are sticklers for details happily call out your errors. I’d love to write a historical fiction, but I am positively frightened of it. So kudos to Chris Karlsen for braving the choppy waters of this genre. 

SILK has two stories running concurrently that eventually cross paths. We open with William, a wealthy aristocrat, member of the House of Lords, friend to Queen Victoria, and an insatiable appetite for kink. When his current paramour is accentually killed during an intimate act, the power from that taste of blood proves so tantalizing that William decides to perpetrate non-accidental deaths.

Set in the middle of the Jack the Ripper panic, which has whipped neighboring Whitechapel into hysteria, Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner are tasked with solving their own peculiar murders taking place outside the British Museum. As the defiled bodies of working class women pile up, the Inspector has his hands full trying to solve this crime without setting off a city wide, Ripper induced panic.

When William gets involved in a copycat killing, he and Bloodstone cross paths, beginning a fascinating cat and mouse game between the two. 

SILK was a bit of a slow start for me, but once the story got going, it grabbed me. While William is revealed as a killer at the start of the book, we are left on pins and needles about his motives for the other murders. He picks up a woman he at a remote train station, will he kill her next? There were several moments in the book that left me breathless. 

There were also bits that slowed down the captivating story. For example, the stiff romance that bloomed between a widowed seamstress and Bloodstone didn’t do much to further the plot, and I skimmed over those moments. There was also a fascinating historical element to the book that Karlsen worked into Bloodstone’s backstory. While I appreciate what the author was doing, and I agree it was fascinating, I felt like it brought the story itself to a halt. 

Quibbles aside, the story is fascinating and I even found myself rooting for William until his final monstrous act. I love villains that are layered enough that you can find ways to sympathize with them. Just like I love imperfect heroes, and Rudyard was certainly that. He came down on the right side of the law, but his personality was as chilly as the serial killers he chased.  

Fans of books set in Victorian England, or of the BBC series Ripper Street (I'm a fan), will enjoy this one.

Check out Chris Karlsen's website, buy SILK from Amazon. Don't forget to leave a comment on this post if you'd like to win a Kindle copy! 

And you can enter a Rafflecopter give away (includes a Kindle copy of SILK, swag bag & a $10 Amazon gift card):

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I received a free Kindle copy from the author for the purposes of reviewing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

HB3 Update!

Hell’s Belle fans will be happy to hear that I made terrific headway on my pre-outline outline for Book 3. 

I know, weird, right? A pre-outline outline?

This is basically where I decide the major plot points, as well as identify the characters I need to carry the these plot points forward. It looks like our favorite surviving characters are back: Nina, Frankie, and Max, of course. Darcy and Matty return, and Casper too. Chuck will probably turn up a time or two, simply because the Beta Vamp really grew on me. Dr. O returns in this book, but we probably won’t catch much of him until the end. And, of course, our favorite demon Ami Bertrand is back pulling everyone’s strings. 

Plus, I am introducing a new, pivotal character. He’s a doozy, and I am crazy excited to write him. 

Nina and Casper are going to go through a major upheaval in this one. I know, how much more crap can I throw at Nina? But just like I needed to off a certain character in Tainted Blood so that Nina could grow as a character, this is the next step in her development.

Action lovers will be happy to hear that it looks like the action sequences are back in line with the original Hell's Belle. The crew knows exactly what's going on and what they need to do. So this time, it's all in the execution. 

Here's a playlist of music kept me going while I worked it all out.  Let me know how you feel about the tunes! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I’m still here! And other odds and ends...

Since I've been busy as a beaver, here's a pic of a beaver dam that I took last summer!
Good news! The new paranormal romance is off to the publisher. I am taking a minute (seriously like a minute) to breathe and then kickstarting Hell’s Belle 3 plus working on the outline for a new PNR that I hope to sell. It’s going to be a slight genre departure for me, so I am kind of excited to work on it.

Add in the day job, and my schedule was hellish this winter. I am a bit exhausted. But I’ve loved every minute that I’ve been writing, and spending more time with my characters daily has been really amazing. It simply drives home that I would love to write full time.   

Since I've been slammed, I have been neglecting this blog a bit, as well as my fellow compatriot authors. I hope to remedy in the coming weeks. I have book review coming next week, and hopefully, I can get back in the swing of the author interviews. And I have a new adventure on tap that I will announce soon-ish. (When I am through the testing phase -- I am okay with tech stuff if I have the time to devote to playing with it, and I am carving out the time now!)

So, it’s all good. I’m still here!

Oh, by the way, did you know I have a mailing list? Sign up if you want book updates, freebies, and sneak peeks at stuff I am working on! (By the way, I don't sell names. You guys are mine, all mine!) 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cover Reveal: A Question of Counsel

It's been a while since I've done a cover reveal and this one is very pretty! (Keep on scrolling for a giveaway at the end of this post!)

A QUESTION OF COUNSEL, a fantasy romance by Archer Kay Leah, is releasing on May 25.

Here's the description:
Life hasn't been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother's trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship.
When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn't know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn't know. Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family—a sister to Aeley's suitors and the family's disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship.
Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley's ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life...

You can pre-order from the publisher, Less Than Three Press

Find Archer online at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Giveaway Time!

Win 2 $10 Amazon gift cards during the cover reveal party!

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