Monthly Archives: April 2012

SEVEN WAYS TO DIE by William Diehl with Kenneth John Atchity – Review

William Diehl is a master storyteller who unfortunately died in 2006 before he could complete Seven Ways to Die, his tenth novel. Before his death he was able to write 412 manuscript pages of the novel, which was completed by Kenneth John Atchity, a friend and fellow writer, with the help of extensive story notes and outlines that were left behind.  Diehl’s bestselling crime novels included Sharky’s Machine (1978) and Thai Horse (1987), and I can see why he was, and continues to be, so popular. Seven Ways to Die is a delicious mixture of police procedural, forensics and character study, with an unexpected and healthy dose of sex thrown in.

Micah Cody is a Nez Perce Indian homicide detective with a pony tail and an uncanny ability to communicate with animals. As a main character he’s got it all: good looks, mystery, and the ability to get into the mind of a serial killer.  He’s formed a subgroup of the NYPD called the Tactical Assistant Squad (TAZ) and assembled the best of the best to help him solve homicides, including a computer whiz, a forensic pathologist, and an assistant DA. He also has a white German shepherd named Charley with “the best nose in the business” that accompanies Cody on investigations, and indeed plays an important part in solving this mystery.

TAZ is called in to investigate the murder of a successful stock broker named Raymond Handley. They are first to arrive on the scene and discover the victim dead, naked and tied to a chair. His throat is slashed but there isn’t a drop of blood to be found. Back at headquarters, the team gets to work trying to determine cause of death, and they discover something chilling. Although Handley appears to have died from having his neck slashed, they discover the underlying and true cause of death: drug-induced heart failure and de-sanguination. This mislead occurs in subsequent murders, and the TAZ crew realizes that they have a serial killer on their hands.

In the midst of TAZ trying to get a lead on the killer, we are introduced to Ward Hamilton, a pompous and flamboyant true crime writer who convinces his editor to let him write a series of articles about unsolved cases in the NYPD. Having failed at writing novels, Hamilton feels the need to redeem himself and make a comeback with the articles, which will culminate in a book. And he’s found his first subject for the project: the case of a young dancer named Melinda Cramer, whose apparent suicide was never solved by Cody and his team. Hamilton is a truly unlikable character, and as he tries to get the Cramer case file from Cody to start his research, we get glimpses into his unsavory life as a playboy that he shares with his equally unlikable lover Victoria.

When a second body turns up naked and tied to a chair, the hunt intensifies to find the killer before he or she can strike again. Along with the growing suspense and the terror of trying to stop a serial killer, Diehl introduces a love interest for Cody, a woman named Amelie who coincidentally lives in the apartment across from Handley’s.  The instant attraction between the two was a nice break from the tension, and in a particularly sweet scene, Cody takes Amelie with him to the zoo in Central Park where he demonstrates his rapport with the zoo’s resident wolves.

Diehl is adept at pacing, and he manages to keep the large cast of characters under control while the action escalates toward the final showdown between Cody and the killer. There are all sorts of wonderful elements in Seven Ways to Die that give what could have been a conventional murder mystery extra depth.  One of my favorites was the role that dogs and wolves played in the story.  During a flashback we are introduced to Cody as a boy in the Nez Perce tribe, who is bitten by a rattlesnake while walking through the desert. Near death and hallucinating, he awakens to find a white wolf next to him, licking the venom from the snakebite. In a brilliant parallel, Charley the German shepherd saves Cody’s life by licking poison out of his wound after he is struck by a poisoned arrow.

There really isn’t anything to not like about Seven Ways to Die. I thought the dialog was first-rate, and with snappy lines like “Cody knew his goose was cooked” I was charmed from page one. There has been a bit of flap from other reviewers over the sex scene in chapter 38, which does seem to come out of nowhere.  But because of the way the bodies are found, the team determines that the killer is almost certainly a sex addict, so the graphic scene didn’t really feel out-of-place to me. Diehl and Atchity also neatly tie in the title of the book, with the forensic description of the seven ways homicide victims are killed, which figures into the murders themselves. The only story element that didn’t ring true for me was the believability that the killer had the intelligence and resources to pull off the highly complicated murders, after learning the killer’s identity.  But that was a small thing that really didn’t detract from the rest of the story.

It was a pleasure to read the book of a seasoned and talented writer, and the work that Atchity did to finish it off was brilliant.

Many thanks to co-author Kenneth John Atchity for supplying a review copy.

You can purchase Seven Ways to Die from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

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In My Mailbox #7

Welcome to In My Mailbox, hosted by The Story Siren.  It’s been a slow couple of weeks for acquiring new books, but that’s a good thing because I have so much catching up to do. I’ve deliberately cut off my normal Amazon-purchasing habit for a while until I can catch my breath! But here’s what I did receive:

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King.  Purchased. This is an interim story in King’s The Dark Tower saga, and here’s how it came to be, in King’s own words, from Goodreads:

Dear Constant Readers,

At some point, while worrying over the copyedited manuscript of the next book (11/22/63, out November 8th), I started thinking—and dreaming—about Mid-World again. The major story of Roland and his ka-tet was told, but I realized there was at least one hole in the narrative progression: what happened to Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy between the time they leave the Emerald City (the end of Wizard and Glass) and the time we pick them up again, on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis (the beginning of Wolves of the Calla)?

There was a storm, I decided. One of sudden and vicious intensity. The kind to which billy-bumblers like Oy are particularly susceptible. Little by little, a story began to take shape. I saw a line of riders, one of them Roland’s old mate, Jamie DeCurry, emerging from clouds of alkali dust thrown by a high wind. I saw a severed head on a fencepost. I saw a swamp full of dangers and terrors. I saw just enough to want to see the rest. Long story short, I went back to visit an-tet with my friends for awhile. The result is a novel called The Wind Through the Keyhole. It’s finished, and I expect it will be published next year.

It won’t tell you much that’s new about Roland and his friends, but there’s a lot none of us knew about Mid-World, both past and present. The novel is shorter than DT 2-7, but quite a bit longer than the first volume—call this one DT-4.5. It’s not going to change anybody’s life, but God, I had fun.

– Steve King

Taste by Kate Evangelista. Received a review e-book from the author.  I recently participated in a video reveal blog event for Kate, and I was intrigued enough to want to read the book myself.  Kate was very kind and sent one my way! This is on my schedule for May reviews, and I am looking forward to it. The cover is so lovely! Here’s the description from Goodreads:

At Barinkoff Academy, there’s only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

Orbs of Power by Rob RodenParker. Received a review e-book from the author. Rob emailed me and asked if I could review Orbs of Power right before I changed my review policies and decided to rant a bit about independently published books, but I’ve just started reading Orbs and I am relieved to find some very solid writing, so we’re off and running.  OK, I’ll admit I’m not crazy about the cover (sorry Rob!), but the story sounds promising. In Rob’s own words, “The genre is fantasy and it has action, adventure, romance, and plenty of battles against the demons.” It will be released May 11th as an e-book, so I’ll be posting a review soon.

What’s in your mailbox?

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Waiting on Wednesday #5: ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. You can head over there to check out lots of other bloggers’ “Waiting” selections…

As for me, this came across my computer the other day:

Origin by Jessica Khoury. Release date: September 4, 2012 from Razorbill.  It’s blurbed as a cross between Lost and Matched.  I’m also loving the cover art.  Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home—and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin—a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost. This is a supremely compelling debut novel that blends the awakening romance of Matched with the mystery and jungle conspiracy of Lost.

This looks like a fun read, and I can’t wait! (But I guess I’ll have to.) What are you waiting on this week?

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Tammy’s Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters in Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  If you head on over to their site, you can see other bloggers’ top ten lists too. This week is tough!  I mean, what do you do? Go back to the classics?  I decided to focus on books I’ve read in the past five years or so.  And I’ve noticed my list features lots of smart, beautiful, and resourceful women. With a couple of guys thrown in!  Here we go, in no particular order:

Rudy from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I love this book so much. And although I’m listing Rudy as my favorite character, I really love Liesel as well. This is a survival story, a love story, a sad story, and a story of hope. Liesel is the book thief, but I fell in love with her friend Rudy. Just read it, if you haven’t yet. You won’t regret it.

Candy from Emergence by David R. Palmer.  I’m so glad I thought of this book. It’s been years since I read it, but it ranks high up on my list of favorite SF stories.  Candy is an incredibly smart eleven-year-old survivor of a bionuclear plague.  With her pet parrot Terry, she sets out on a journey to find other survivors.  Yes, it sounds like a million other post-apocalyptic novels, but it’s unlike anything else you’ll ever read. I’m holding on tight to my frayed paperback copy, because unfortunately, Emergence is out of print at the moment.

Fire from Fire by Kristin Cashore. I am eagerly awaiting Bitterblue, the final book in Cashore’s trilogy, but until then I can gush over Fire, the second in the series. In this world, Fire is called a monster.  She has fiery red, beautiful hair and can control people and read their minds.  She is such a unique character, that it’s hard to compare her to anyone else.

Jake from The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Jake is the last werewolf on Earth, and he is one bad-ass dude.  But he’s also handsome, suave and charismatic. Plus he has the heart of a poet. Or at least Duncan does. Jake has been around the block and has given up hope, and now that he’s being hunted, he’s almost ready to go quietly.  You kinda feel sorry for the guy, but he finds the will to live when he meets…well, I don’t want to spoil it for you…

Myfawny Thomas from The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. “Myfawny” rhymes with “Tiffany.”  That’s one of the first things you learn about this wonderful character, told in her own words.  I loved The Rook and just never got around to writing a review, but Myfawny’s first person account of how she wakes up in someone else’s body (she’s actually lost her memory) and how she solves the mystery of who exactly is trying to kill her is one of the more original stories I’ve read recently.

Unnamed narrator from Incendiary by Chris Cleave.  The subject matter about a London bombing at a soccer game is tough to swallow,  and I don’t think I would have been able to get through it if it weren’t for the heart-felt narration of a woman whose husband and son were killed in the stadium.  Written as a letter to Osama bin Laden,  the narrator’s voice is fraught with sorrow and anger, but she gets through the horrible days after the bombing with a wry humor. She is truly an unforgettable woman.

Iko from Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  One of my most recent five-star reviews, Cinder is a SF take on the Cinderella fairy tale. Its structure follows the events in the classic tale, but the unique characters make this quite different. I love the character of Cinder, but I actually loved her android Iko even more.  Iko is quite intelligent for an android, and she is Cinder’s constant companion.  She keeps Cinder’s secrets just like a real friend, and you won’t believe what happens to her near the end of the story, or how Meyer sets the stage for Iko’s reappearance in the next book in the series, Scarlet.

Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Kvothe is everything a great character should be: dashing, a talented musician and gifted with the ability to do just about everything well. He’s also irreverent and has a mysterious past. He makes women swoon and breaks lots of rules.  I didn’t like Rothfuss’ second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, as much, but I did find even more to love about Kvothe.

Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Here’s another quirky, intelligent and talented female character with colored hair! Daughter of Smoke & Bone was a favorite of mine last year, mostly due to the characters, but also because Laini’s writing is so vibrant and engaging. You can tell she truly loves the characters she is writing about, and that makes the reader love them as well. Deep down I want to be Karou, a girl who can make wishes come true and has blue hair.

Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Although she is abused in the beginning of the story, Lisbeth gets her sweet revenge and never lets the bad guys crush her spirit. How can you not love a character like that? And she’s a computer hacker to boot. I don’t really want to be her, but I do admire her tenacity and focus.

So, who are your favorite characters?

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SOCIALPUNK – The Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway

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Waiting on Wednesday #4: THE TAKEN by Vicki Pettersson & BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig

Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday, brought to you by Breaking the Spine!  I couldn’t decide on one book this week, so I’ve picked two that I recently came across and couldn’t wait to share…

The Taken by Vicki Pettersson. Release date: June 12 by Harper Voyager. Love the cover of this book! Everything about it makes me want to grab it off the bookshelf!  I’ve never read Pettersson before, but this one sounds like fun. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

He’s a fallen angel. She’s a rockabilly reporter. Together they must solve a deadly string of murders plaguing the mortal and the immortal worlds.

Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was over fifty years ago when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Now he’s a Centurion, an angel who assists other murdered souls through their journey to the afterlife. But while Shaw might be an angel … he’s no saint. Haunted by the mysterious events surrounding his own death, he seizes a chance to wreak some vengeance when he witnesses a deadly attack on journalist Katherine “Kit” Craig.

Joining forces, the unlikely avengers take to the streets, hunting a killer whose trail of bodies stretches across Las Vegas and into an immortal netherworld. It is a dangerous trek that lead them into the darkest corners of Sin City and into the heart of an evil conspiracy extending beyond the lights of the Strip that could destroy them both.

But destruction isn’t the only threat Griffin faces. The closer he gets to Kit, the more he finds himself bewitched by her mortal charms. Can he resist falling under her spell? And does he want to?

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. Release date: April 24 by Angry Robot. OK, I love this cover too! I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in the world of digital media today, authors truly do need to pay attention to how their book is perceived by readers.  Both of these covers are professional and provocative.  Here’s what Goodreads has to say about Blackbirds:

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

What are you waiting for?

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VENTURE UNLEASHED by R.H. Russell – Review

I was very happy when R. H. Russell asked me to review Venture Unleashed. I reviewed the first book in the series, Venture Untamed, and really enjoyed it. For those of you who didn’t read my review of Venture Untamed, Russell has had many years of martial arts training, and this makes the fight sequences especially realistic. The book picks up right where Venture Untamed left us, as Venture Delving arrives at the Champions Center to begin training for a place in the ultimate fighting competition and secure the title of Champion of All Richland.

At the Champions Center Venture meets two legends in the fighting world: Dasher Starson and Will Fisher, both past champions. He soon finds out that his path to victory will be rocky. In an attempt to put the new kid in his place, Venture is beaten unconscious by Dasher, but earns his respect by not backing down.  After Starson decides to leave the Champions Center and strike out on his own, he takes Venture with him.

Along the way they meet a precocious runaway named Chance who latches onto Venture and becomes his constant companion, and after some time on the road, training and working with Dash, they return to Twin Rivers for some time off. There Venture inevitably runs into Jade, his life-long friend and the girl he loves but can never have, and their reunion is fraught with tension, since Venture swore to her father that he wouldn’t pursue a relationship with her.  He tries to be proper and respectful around Jade, but it is clear he is struggling and only wants to declare his love.

Dealing with his feelings for Jade is only one of many obstacles that Venture must face before the story ends.  When he finally gets his chance to compete for the ultimate title, enemies resurface and threaten not only his chances of winning, but his very life as well.  Venture must overcome injuries, jealousies, and hatred before things get better.

Russell’s writing is smooth and flowing, which I especially appreciated. Although the subject matter, hand-to-hand combat, is not something I usually seek out to read, I found myself cheering for Venture along with all his friends.  Russell has given Venture the admirable qualities of duty and honor, but he also struggles with his temper, which makes him a very human character.  He also displays an important trait of many successful athletes, which is the ability to push through the pain and continue to compete. The constant threat that the crested, or elite, are trying to get rid of the Championship is a driving force throughout the story, and it makes for some great tension.

The character of Venture is a testament to anyone who has been put down and ostracized for being different, and had the strength to overcome those obstacles.  Russell has created a hero in Venture that shines a light on the tenacity of the human spirit.

Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy of the book.

You can visit the author’s website here and purchase Venture Unleashed here. And if you still want more of Venture and his friends (and enemies!), Russell has written a novelette called Boundless that you can purchase here.

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TASTE by Kate Evangelista – Book Trailer & Excerpt Reveal

Today I am very happy to be a part of the Taste Book Trailer and Excerpt reveal! Look at this beautiful cover, doesn’t it make you want to grab this book and read it? Taste will be published by Crescent Moon Press and will be available in May.  Until then, the author has graciously supplied some materials to whet your appetite. Don’t forget to watch the trailer near the end of this post.  First, here is the book description from Goodreads:

At Barinkoff Academy, there’s only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

And here is an exclusive excerpt from Taste:

I mentally stomped on the intimidation their perfection brought into my mind and said, “Excuse me.”

The group froze, startled by my words. The girls had their brows raised and the boys stopped mid-speech, mouths agape. They stared at me with eyes the shade of onyx stones.

I smiled and gave them a little wave.

The boy a step ahead of the rest recovered first. His stunning features went from shocked surprise to intense interest. He reminded me of a hawk eyeing its prey. I gulped.

“A Day Student,” he said, his eyes insolent and excited.

Something about the way he said “Day Student” made my stomach flip. “Excuse me?”

They snickered. The boys looked at each other while the girls continued to stare, muffling their laughter by delicate hands. I seemed to be the butt of some joke.

“You broke the rule.” The boy’s grin turned predatory.

The students formed a loose semi-circle in front of me. My gaze darted from face to face. Hunger filled their eyes. The image of lions about to chase down a gazelle came to mind. I mentally shook my head. I was in the mountains not the Serengeti for crying out loud.

I took a small step back and cleared my throat. “Can any of you give me a ride back to the dorms?”

The boy wagged his forefinger like a metronome. “Ah, that’s unfortunate for you.”

One of the girls pinched the bridge of her nose. “Eli, you can’t possibly—”

“It’s forbidden, Eli,” another boy interrupted, pronouncing the word “forbidden” like a curse.

The nervous murmur at the pit of my stomach grew louder. Six against one. Not good odds. Instinct told me to cut my losses and run. Bad enough I faced expulsion, now it seemed like weird, beautiful people who’d suddenly appeared on campus wanted to beat me up. No, scratch that. Judging from the way they studied me, beating me up wouldn’t satisfy them. Something more primal prowled behind their looks.

I definitely wasn’t going down without a fight. Years of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat classes had me prepared. While other children from rich and important families got bodyguards, I got defense training. But I think my father meant for my skills to go up against potential kidnappers, not against other students who may or may not be crazy. Oh God! Maybe I stepped into a parallel universe or something when I reentered Barinkoff.

“None of the students are supposed to be on campus,” I said. Then, realizing my mistake, I added, “Okay, I know I’m not supposed to be here either. If one of you gives me a ride back to the dorms, I won’t say anything about all this. Let’s pretend this never happened. I didn’t see you, you didn’t see me.”

“We’re not ordinary students,” Eli answered. “We’re the Night Students.”

He’d said “Night Students” like the words were capitalized. I didn’t know Barinkoff held classes at night. What was going on here?

Eli smiled with just one side of his mouth and said to the group, “She’s right, no one will have to know. We’re the only ones here. And it’s been so long, don’t you agree?”

The rest of them nodded reluctantly.

“What’s been so long?” I challenged. I fisted my hands, ready to put them up if any of them so much as twitched my way.

“Since the taste of real flesh passed through my lips,” Eli said. He came forward and took a whiff of me then laughed when I cringed.

“Flesh.” Yep, parallel universe.

“Yes,” he said. “And yours smells so fresh.”

Someone grabbed my shoulders from behind and yanked me back before I could wrap my mind around the meaning behind Eli’s words. In a blink, I found myself behind someone tall. Someone really tall. And quite broad. And very male.

I realized he wore the same clothes Eli and the other boys did. Not good. He was one of them. Although… I cocked my head, raking my gaze over him. He seemed born to wear the uniform, like he was the pattern everyone else was cut from. My eyes wandered to long, layered, blue-black hair tied at the nape by a silk ribbon. Even in dim light, his hair possessed a sheen akin to mercury.

I looked down. The boy’s long fingers were wrapped around my wrist like a cuff. His fevered touch felt hotter than human standards, hot enough to make me sweat like I was standing beside a radiator but not hot enough to burn.

“I must be mistaken, Eli,” the boy who held my arm said in a monotone. “Correct me. Did I hear you say you wanted to taste the flesh of this girl?”

A hush descended on us. It had the hairs at the back of my neck rising. How was it possible for the atmosphere to switch from threatening to dangerous? Unable to help myself, I peeked around the new guy’s bulk. Eli and his friends bowed. They all had their right hands on their chests.

“Demitri, I’m sure you misheard me,” Eli said.

So the guy standing between me and the person who said he’d wanted to taste me was named Demitri. I like the sound of his name. Demitri. So strong, yet rolls off the tongue. Definite yum factor.

“So, you imply I made a mistake?” Demitri demanded.

“No!” Eli lifted his gaze. “I did no such thing. I simply wanted to show the girl the consequences of breaking curfew.”

“Hey!” I yelled. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”

Demitri ignored my protest and continued to address Eli. “So, you threatened to taste her flesh.” His fingers tightened their grip around my wrist. “In the interest of investigating this matter further, I invoke the Silence.”

All six students gasped, passing surprised glances at one another.

Before I could ask about what was going on, Demitri yanked me down the hall toward the library. But why there? Oh, maybe we were getting my things. No, wait, he couldn’t have known about that. Everything was too confusing now.

Eli and the others didn’t try to stop us when we passed them. Demitri’s cold command must have carried power. Handsome and powerful, never a bad combination on a guy.

We reached the heavy double doors in seconds. He jerked one open effortlessly. I’d needed all my strength just to squeeze through that same door earlier. To him, the thick wood might as well have been cardboard. I raised an eyebrow and mentally listed the benefits of going to gym class.

“Why are we here?” I asked after my curiosity overpowered my worry. I’d almost forgotten how frightened I’d been right before Demitri showed up. I wasn’t above accepting help from strangers. Especially from gorgeous dark-haired strangers with hot hands and wide shoulders.

Demitri kept going, tugging me along, snaking his way deeper into the library. I had to take two steps for every stride his legs made. I tried to stay directly behind him, praying we didn’t slam into anything.

He stopped suddenly and I collided with him. It felt like slamming into a wall.

“Hey,” I said, momentarily stunned. “A little warning would be nice!”

He faced me, and I gasped. His eyes resembled a starless night, deep and endless. Their intensity drilled through me without pity, seeming to expose all my secrets. I felt naked and flustered beneath his gaze.

“You could have died back there,” he warned.

A lump of panic rebuilt itself in my throat.

Sounds good, right?  Taste will be released on May 1, 2012. You will be able to purchase it from Crescent Moon Press and Amazon.

And now for the book trailer reveal! Enjoy:

Song Credits: “Hunger” © Noelle Pico.

Full Download available at http://sheisnoelle.bandcamp.com

About the author:

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn’t going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master’s courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

You can find Kate here:

Author Website: www.kateevangelista.com

Twitter: @KateEvangelista

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kate-Evangelista/165693410143202

Find Taste on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13484226-taste

Crescent Moon Press page for Taste: http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/Taste.html

Many thanks to Kate Evangelista for including me in her Taste Book Trailer and Excerpt Reveal.

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In My Mailbox #6

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way to share with other bloggers the books you’ve received over the past week.

This week I ended up with a very interesting group of books in all kinds of genres. Here they are:

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith. Purchased. Grahame-Smith wrote Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which I never got to read last year. Now the movie is coming out, and of course I want to read it first.  Unholy Night is his latest, and once again he skewers a historical event and turns it into, well, something else entirely. Here’s what Goodreads says:

They’re an iconic part of history’s most celebrated birth. But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity, besides the fact that they followed a star to Bethlehem bearing strange gifts? The Bible has little to say about this enigmatic trio. But leave it to Seth Grahame-Smith, the brilliant and twisted mind behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to take a little mystery, bend a little history, and weave an epic tale.

In Grahame-Smith’s telling, the so-called “Three Wise Men” are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod’s prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod’s men begin to slaughter the first-born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.

It’s the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.

The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small, published by West Hills Press.  Received a review copy from the publisher. OK, I’m not on a religious kick, I just happened to receive two books this week with religious overtones. The Breath of God has been compared to The Da Vinci Code.  Wow! It looks really good, and here’s the description from Goodreads:

A murder at the Taj Mahal. A kidnapping in a sacred city. A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery. All in the pursuit of a legend that could link the world’s great religious faiths.

In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed. His discovery vanished shortly thereafter.

Now, graduate student Grant Matthews journeys to the Himalayas in search of this ancient mystery. But Matthews couldn’t have anticipated the conspiracy of zealots who would go to any lengths to prevent him from bringing this secret public. Soon he is in a race to expose a truth that will change the world’s understanding of religion. A truth that his university colleagues believe is mere myth. A truth that will change his life forever, if he survives.

CurbChek Reload by Zach Fortier.  Received a review copy from the author.  Yep, he’s back! Once again, Zach has been kind enough to send me a copy of his latest book, despite the fact that I wasn’t blown away by Curbchek and Street Creds. His style is gritty and unpolished, but the life of a street cop is gritty and unpolished, so it works for me in some strange way. Here’s what Goodreads says about CurbChek Reload:

CurbChek Reload is a compilation of calls handled by Zach Fortier. This is a more accurate account of the street…at least the streets as i worked them. You will accompany Zach down some dark alleys, into crack houses, chase teenage prostitutes and try to breathe life into the dying. The humor is dark. It’s real cop humor, not the canned jokes made up by people who write about cops, but the stuff they actually laugh about as they try to cope with the dark realities of the job.
Hang on for a rollercoaster ride full of unexpected twists and turns.

Summer Morning, Summer Night by Ray Bradbury. Won in the Worldbuilders raffle. I was surprised when this showed up on my doorstep, because Worldbuilders was over in January, and I really thought I hadn’t won anything. But I’m so happy to have a new batch of short stories by Ray Bradbury. This book was actually published in 2008, and it’s filled with the magical charm that only Ray Bradbury can bring to his stories. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Green Town, Illinois stands at the very heart of Ray Bradbury Country. A lovingly re-imagined version of the author’s native Waukegan, it has served as the setting for such modern classics as Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Farewell Summer. In Summer Morning, Summer Night, Bradbury returns to this signature locale with a generous new collection of twenty-seven stories and vignettes, seventeen of which have never been published before. Together, they illuminate some of Green Town’s previously hidden corners, and reaffirm Bradbury’s position as the undisputed master of a unique fictional universe.

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?

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BIG NEWS! New Books by Some Old Favorites

If you haven’t been on the internet lately, you may be one of the three people on the planet who haven’t heard  about J. K. Rowling’s latest.  The Casual Vacancy, her first novel for adults, will be published by Rowling’s new publisher Little, Brown on September 27, 2012. Obviously the cover design has not yet been revealed, but Little, Brown gives us a preview of the plot below:

Plot details and pricing were also included in Little, Brown’s release about the novel, which it described as “blackly comic.” The book is set in a small English town called Pagford, which comes undone after one of its denizens, a man in his early 40s named Barry Fairweather, unexpectedly dies. The event shakes the town and reveals the rampant unrest bubbling under the surface in the deceptively perfect hamlet. LB elaborated: “Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems.”

The publisher also reveals that the list price will be $35.  This tells me it’s going to be a long book, I’m guessing somewhere in the 700-800 page range, if not more.  I’m looking forward to seeing where Rowling goes post-Harry with her imagination…

In other Big News, Stephen King has two new books on the horizon. He’s working on a novel called Joyland, which takes place in an amusement park and features murderous clowns. Joyland is in the editing stage and does not yet have a release date…and get ready for a King’s sequel to The Shining entitled Dr. Sleep, in which a grown-up Danny Torrance is a hospice worker who encounters a clan of psychic vampires.  Wow! Dr. Sleep is due for publication sometime next year.

And finally, one of my favorite YA authors has a new series coming out later this year. Maggie Stiefvater, author of the bestselling Shiver trilogy, kicks off her latest series of four books with The Raven Boys. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

You can read the first two chapters of The Raven Boys here!

The Raven Boys comes out September 18, 2012.

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