Ashes of a Black Frost (11/1) | The Shattered Vine (11/3)
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FTC Disclosure: I am an affiliate at IndieBound, The Book Depository, and Amazon, and any purchases made by clicking on covers or links here may result in monetary compensation.


October 30, 2011
Hey everyone! 

I 'd mentioned moving to my own domain: Well, I meant to keep things updated here, too, but quickly realized that it was much more work than I can keep up with. So, I would really appreciate y'all updating your links to point to the new locale. Especially when I've got all sorts of goodies for y'all to celebrate my upcoming third blogoversary!

Thank you for your time and attention. I appreciate that you've been following my posts, and taking the time to comment and enter my giveaways. I hope you'll continue to follow along as I take the next steps on my journey.

Review: 150. Hammered by Kevin Hearne...

October 28, 2011
I enjoyed this series so much I couldn't put it down. It should come with a contagion warning...

Title: Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles #3)
Author: Kevin Hearne
ISBN-13: 9780345522481
Publisher: Random House, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
Oh. My. Goodness. Be prepared to snort, chuckle, and flat out laugh-out-loud when reading Hammered. Not that facing off with the Norse gods just to fulfill a couple of promises is laughing matter, especially since one of those gods has a reputation for being a complete tool... Nevertheless, Hammered definitely tickled my funny bone.

So much so, in fact, that I had the guys (the Mr.'s friends who were hanging out at our place) asking why I was laughing so much. I think I may even have one of 'em interested in checking out this series... ;-)

Anyway. Back to the review. Apparently Thor has amassed quite the number of aggrieved enemies in his long and annoyingly ramification-free life. Not any more. After waiting centuries to hone his skills, Leif is ready for his revenge--along with a half-dozen others. And who's the lucky duck who gets to lead this group of vengeance-seekers to Asgard? Why, our very own favorite druid, of course. Never mind that he'd most likely not survive the trip...

If you've read any of Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, you'll know that he liberally sprinkles it with gods from various mythologies. His reach is far and wide, and part of the reason I really enjoy his stories are because of this breadth of characters. And not only does he bring them in, he gives them background and color, and purpose. One of my favorite parts of the story brings to mind Terry Pratchett's Small Gods--which brings forth the premise that gods only existed insofar as they had followers. Once your last faithful follower is gone, you're history. But we're not here to talk about Small Gods (though I'd suggest you pick it up if you happen to like irreverent humor and philosophy in your books), we're here for Hammered. So. One of the vengeance-seekers is a former thunder god--one whose name is no longer known because Thor convinced myriads other gods to have their followers forgo verbal histories in favor of drawing on cave walls and chiseling in stone, not much of which withstood the test of time... And so they languished, forgotten by the fickle humans...

So. There's humor. There's fighting and magic-slinging. There's death and destruction. And more humor. What else do you need to know? Go start with Hounded!

drey's rating: Outstanding! Kevin Hearne just gets better and better. I can't wait to find out what Atticus does next. After all, he'll have a whole horde of Norse gods on his tail...

Have you read Hammered? What did you think?

Review: 149. Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara...

October 27, 2011
I love Kaylin, and I love watching her growth in Michelle Sagara's Chronicles of Elantra series.

cast in ruin
Title: Cast in Ruin (Chronicles of Elantra #7)
Author: Michelle Sagara
ISBN-13: 9780373803309
eBook: 325 pages
Publisher: Luna, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
She started out in this series an awkward young woman, on the beat for the Halls of Law, irreverent and impetuous, and known more for being late than anything else. With each installment Kaylin Neya's grown a bit more--either in her magic, or her understanding of it. Of course, it's still in dribs and drabs, considering that there's nobody around who could tell her about her magic...

In Cast in Ruin, Kaylin's back at lessons. Etiquette lessons, which she needs if she's to survive a meeting with the Emperor, because apparently dragons don't have any sense of humor at all... And if you've followed Kaylin's journey, you know she's not very good at lessons. It's almost a miracle she's still alive, actually...

Lessons aren't the only thing Kaylin has to do in this installment, of course. She's called to Tiamaris' fief to do some investigating when bodies start appearing. Seven identical bodies, to be exact. And nobody knows who they are or where they've come from.

What follows is a tale of epic proportions, complete with backstory, a villain, a hero, and a damsel. Of sorts. And Kaylin, of course--even if she's gotten a hold of her irreverence (or at least attempts to not verbalize it) and sometimes checks her impetuousness at the door. I love the new characters introduced in Cast in Ruin, and I loved that Severn and Kaylin's relationship hasn't changed much, even with a few more things out in the open. I love the dialog and the action, too. And I love how things worked out, which isn't something I can always say about a book in a fantasy series! I'm looking forward to the next installment, Cast in Peril, even though I have no clue when it'll be out. Please make it soon!!

drey's rating: Outstanding! If you haven't read this series (yet), start with Cast in Shadow.

And if you have read it, what did you think?

October's FEATURED AUTHOR: Kevin and the old-school creepies...

October 26, 2011
It's the last Wednesday in October (already?? how??) and our Featured Author Kevin Hearne is here to talk about Halloween and creepy stuff... Read on!
For Halloween, I am posting a sign on my door that says KNOCK AND I WILL CHEERFULLY CONTRIBUTE TO THE DESTRUCTION OF YOUR TOOTH ENAMEL. I may or may not append a postscript with the season’s greetings, “Muah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!” Because there is nothing so terrifying as a visit to the dentist.

There is some debate in my house as to whether this celebrates the spirit of Halloween or not.

I may retort that we honestly don’t want to celebrate the spirit of every holiday—look closely at what Christopher Columbus did, for example, once he got to the New World, and you won’t want to celebrate that man anymore. But fine: let us celebrate an ill-defined spirit of Halloween. Creepy stuff! Yeah!

Hollywood has its own definition, but I don’t mean creepy in the modern sense—someone stalking you or sociopathic serial killers who were abused as children and now must abuse everyone else—I mean old-school creepy. Dread. A pants-crapping fear of the unknown. My stomach can’t handle modern horror: it basically turns people into victims, knocks them down on the food chain somehow, and that’s it. But Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft—those dudes knew how to crawl inside your head and mess with it a while. They created tension with mere words, not camera tricks and close-ups on the victim’s face and loud noises to startle you. So in the spirit of Halloween, why not visit (or revisit) their stories? The horror genre owes much to them. Heck, every Scooby-Doo episode with a creepy mansion in it should give credit to Poe’s short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

If you have a Kindle or other electronic reader, you can get the complete works of Poe and Lovecraft either for free or for less than a dollar. But if you want to kick it old school with these old-school masters of horror and turn actual pages, there are plenty of collections out there, often with critical essays lumped in, that would look quite lovely on your shelf—after you’ve read them, of course.

My bestest recommendation: participate in All Hallow’s Read. Give someone (an age-appropriate) scary book to read. Used or new. It’s better for them than a visit to the dentist.

And in completely other, non-Halloween related news, I’d like to thank Drey for featuring me on her blog this month. I appreciate the love and I’m very grateful to you all for reading my (completely non-scary) books!
Actually, there is nothing quite so terrifying as a visit to the dentist when in need of dental work... Just visiting isn't so bad, but I hate that drill... All Hallow's Read sounds interesting, I've got it bookmarked to check later--thank you for sharing! And you can come back anytime. I love your books, and your sense of humor, and your letting me make you work! *grin* Thank you for taking the time to visit!

Review: 148. Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich...

October 25, 2011
smokin' seventeenI'm addicted to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, even though the last few books have seemed like recordings stuck in an endless loop...
Title: Smokin' Seventeen
Author: Janet Evanovich
ISBN-13: 9780345527684
Hardcover: 308 pages
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, 2011
Purchase at IndieBoundAmazonThe Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts: Oh Stephanie. Working out of a borrowed motor home, Stephanie and her gal Lula get into the same hijinks as always. They get fooled by the perps they go looking for (again), Steph's wheels go up in flames (again), Grandma Mazur causes a ruckus at the funeral home (again), Steph's mom sets her up with another it'd-be-better-to-not-go-there date (again)... If you're familiar with the series, I don't need to say any more. If you're not, start with One for the Money, where it's all fresh and new.

 Honestly, I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep picking these up. At some point, the same-story-all-the-tiime routine gets old and stale. And I hate that she's with both Morelli AND Ranger in this one. Pick one and stick with it, or dump 'em both and go find someone else! (Not that it would be easy to dump Ranger, in my opinion!)

Stephanie needs to get off of this wheel she keeps running around in. Really.

 drey's rating: Ok. What about you? Have you read Smokin' Seventeen? What did you think? Or have you given up waiting on Stephanie to grow up?

Blog Tour: 147. A Novel Seduction by Gwyn Cready...

October 24, 2011
I am a sucker for a good contemporary romance... It lightens up the darkness--war and fighting, good-vs-evil, and save-the-world-or-else --that we get in urban fantasy and fantasy.

gwyn creadyAbout the author:
Gwyn Cready is the recipient of the 2009 RITA Award for Best Paranormal Romance and the author of Tumbling Through TimeSeducing Mr. DarcyFlirting with ForeverAching for Always and A Novel Seduction. She has been called "the master of time travel romance." A Novel Seduction is her first foray into contemporary romance as well as men in kilts, and she found both eminently satisfying. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

a novel seductionAbout the book:
When snobbish book critic Ellery Sharpe screws up at Vanity Place magazine, her boss assigns her the ultimate punishment: write an ode to romance novels, a genre she considers the literary equivalent of word search puzzles. To make matters worse, he hires her sexy former party boy ex, Axel Mackenzie, to shoot the photos. Axel really wants the project to succeed. For one, the magazine will double his fee if he convinces strong-willed Ellery to write a story no woman can resist. Besides, getting Ellery to fall for romance novels might be just the push she needs to believe people can change . . . even him. At his sister’s advice, Axel gives Ellery a copy of Kiltlander, a much-adored romance whose warrior hero is utterly irresistible. To her dismay, Ellery finds herself secretly falling in love with the story—and with Axel, who’s drawing his own lessons from the book’s compelling hero. With her carefully crafted image of herself crumbling and her dream job on the line, will Ellery risk it all to make the leap from tight-lipped literati to happily-ever-after heroine?
drey's thoughts:
I was really in the mood for something light and heartwarming when I picked up A Novel Seduction. And how could I go wrong with a half-nekkid dude in a kilt? (Yes, even though I can tell this half-nekkid dude isn't wearing his kilt like a true Scots! ;)

Anyway. Ellery is stubborn and opinionated. Alex is a reformed rake who still loves her, and has no idea why they broke up five years ago. Well, he has an idea, but no confirmation, as Ellery has steadfastly avoided the entire topic--and him. For us readers, A Novel Seduction has back-flashes to provide some insight into the state of their relationship then, to go with the reminiscing today, especially in Ellery's case. And I'm sorry, but I think she totally made a mountain out of a molehill and placed the responsibility for said mountain squarely on Alex. Not that he's all shiny-halo blameless himself. But still.

In any case, these two find themselves thrown together in an assignment she doesn't want to do, and he can't afford for her not to. And he makes a feeble attempt at keeping her on track, but mostly just brings along romance novels to see what all the fuss is about. The story was mostly so-so for me, until they got to Edinburgh and Alex dons a kilt. Ah, that savior of all romance novels, that kilt. :D The plot was believable enough--but I have to say I didn't care for the scenes with her boss and his paramour. What I did enjoy was the banter between Ellery and Alex. It swings from almost-hostile to downright warm-fuzzy, and had plenty of "awwww" moments that romance fans love. All in all a pretty good read.

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read A Novel Seduction? What did you think?

Title: A Novel Seduction
Author: Gwyn Cready
ISBN-13: 9781451612646
Paperback: 373 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star, 2011
Purchase at IndieBoundAmazonThe Book Depository
Source: Pocket Books

Winners!! and a new home!

October 22, 2011
I know, I know, I'm really late with some of these! But I kept thinking "there's another ending soon, I'll compile 'em all and put out one post," and this is what happens... Sorry, y'all!

Anyway. Winners. Here's the whole list of 'em...

Katrina Kittle's Reasons to be Happy:  holdenj!!

Christie Craig's Don't Mess with Texas and Jane Graves' Heartstrings and Diamond Rings: Denise Z and Jolene A!!

Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus: Erin and Ashley Holt!!

Chris Evans' A Darkness Forged in Fire: Trisha W!!

Laura Anne Gilman's Flesh and Fire: Melissa Roma!!

Phew. Congratulations, everybody!! Please get me your mailing information before the end of day Tuesday. And thank you for stopping in!

Next up is some news...

I've decided to bite the bullet and get my own domain name. So, is officially mine and it's up and running. I still have a ton to do to fix the links and stuff (so they're not pointing here), and who knows when I'll finally be done with that. But. Go check it out! And let me know what you think! I'll try to duplicate posts here until I shut this site down. When? I'm not sure. But I will let you know when I figure it out!

Finally, last but not least: There are giveaways still running! Go enter 'em if you haven't already!

Review: 146. Hexed by Kevin Hearne...

October 21, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed Kevin Hearne's Hounded--what a romp! So of course I had to pick up Hexed, tout suite!

Title: Hexed (Iron Druid #2)
Author: Kevin Hearne
ISBN-13: 9780345522498
Publisher: Random House, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
In Hexed, our favorite druid runs into witches. Bad witches, good witches, witches who try to kill him, witches who wreak havoc, witches he's trying to sign a non-agression pact with... You get the idea: LOTS of witches. And if that wasn't headache enough, he's got a fallen angel chomping on high-school kids, demons coming down his street, and followers of the god Bacchus are heading to town to--you guessed it--wreak more havoc. Did somebody put up a neon "C'mon Over, All Ye Troublemakers" sign?

So off he goes to take care of the problems, and make sure the peaceful witches stay that way. I particularly enjoyed his messing with their magic with his ward--like a "neener, neener my ward's better than your magic" thing... Of course, he can't just let 'em do what they want--one of them might figure out how to kill him, and Atticus hasn't lived this long by letting that happen.

Atticus is still my new-favorite-hero. And I love, love, love, Oberon. Granuaile's irreverence provides yet more amusing reading. Coyote makes an appearance, which should foretell trouble to anyone remotely familiar with the legends... Laksha shows up to help out in a fight, and I wouldn't mind seeing more of her. The Morrigan on the other hand scares the bleepers out of me!  And oh my, the promises we make to get the help we need to keep our world and its people safe... All I know is, Atticus is going to have a heck of a time fulfilling those vows to Laksha and Leif--the latter might actually kill him.

There's something for everyone here, whether you like Shakespeare, urban fantasy, mythological gods, snippy vamps, lovable wolfhounds, baseball, ass-kicking action, or plain ol' flat-out laugh-out-loud funnies. Go pick it up. Seriously.

drey's rating: Excellent! This series just keeps getting better and better!

Have you read Hexed? What did you think?

Review & Giveaway: 145. The Shattered Vine by Laura Anne Gilman...

October 20, 2011
I've been looking forward to Jerzy's journey since Weight of Stone... And here it is.

the shattered vine
About the book:
An island nation has vanished. Men of honor and magic have died unnatural deaths. Slaves flee in terror. . . . Are the silent gods beginning to speak? Or is another force at work in the Lands Vin?

Laura Anne Gilman’s critically acclaimed, Nebula Award–nominated Flesh and Fire introduced a brilliantly imagined world where the grapevine—cultivated by the Vinearts who know the secrets of wine magic—holds together disparate lands. Now, confusion, violence, and terror are sweeping over the Lands Vin. And four people are at the center of a storm.

Jerzy, Vineart apprentice and former slave, was sent by his master to investigate strange happenings—and found himself the target of betrayal. Now he must set out on his own journey, to find the source of the foul taint that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear. By Jerzy’s side are Ao, who lives for commerce and the art of the deal; Mahault, stoic and wise, risking death in flight from her homeland; and Kaïnam, once Named-Heir of an island principality, whose father has fallen into a magic-tangled madness that endangers them all.

These four companions will travel far from the earth and the soul of the vine, sailing along coastlines aflame with fear, confronting sea creatures summoned by darkness, and following winds imbued with malice. Their journey will take them to the very limits of the Sin Washer’s reach . . . and into a battle for the soul of the Lands Vin. For two millennia the Sin Washer’s Commandment has kept these lands in order: Those of magic shall hold no power over men and those princes of power shall hold no magic. Now, that law has given way. And a hidden force seeks the havoc of revenge.
Title: The Shattered Vine (Vineart War #3)
Author: Laura Anne Gilman
ISBN-13: 9781439101483
Hardcover: 343 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Pocket Books

drey's thoughts:
Jerzy heads home in this final installment of Laura Anne Gilman's Vineart War trilogy. He's left his vines, traveled far and wide, seen creatures real and fantastical, and avoided the Washers. He's more aware now of the power a vineart mage can wield, yet realizes that with power comes responsibility. Oh how I wish that were true of our politicians! Ok, sorry, I got distracted. Won't happen again...

The first part of The Shattered Vine covers Jerzy's return (with his friends) and getting settled back in. Things have changed while Jerzy was away. Lords are making pacts with their Vinearts, and the Washers are understandably nervous. Though Jerzy has no love for the Collegium at all, he realizes that their role is a necessary one--even if they go overboard with that responsibility. Because the alternative is far worse than some overzealous Washers, as he well knows.

I liked the scenes with Ao in them, his sense of humor is infectious. And wish there was a bit more of Mahault and what shape her future takes. As for Kainam, he's still a Prince--there'll always be a place for him in the world.

The second part of The Shattered Vine reveals the anti-climactic conclusion to this series. It was honestly a tad underwhelming, especially after all the build-up of evil and taint so far. But still, this is a very satisfying conclusion to a very imaginative world from Gilman.

drey's rating: Excellent!

Have you read The Shattered Vine? What did you think?

It's release week for The Shattered Vine, and in celebration, the publisher has one copy of the book for you! This one's US-only (no PO Boxes, please). Enter by filling out the form before November 3rd. Good luck!

October's FEATURED AUTHOR: Kevin's favorite books...

October 19, 2011
It's Wednesday! And that means it's time for another visit from our Featured Author of the  month, Kevin Hearne! Today, Kevin tells us what his (current) favorite books are, and some are totally delish, while others have been added to my want-to-read pile... Check this out!

(Note: I couldn't help myself. Please excuse the interruptions...)

In general, my favorite book is whatever I’m reading at the moment. But these days I read anywhere from five to ten books at a time: They’re scattered around the house with bookmarks in them, and I pick them up whenever I walk by and read a few pages at a time. It’s like literary snacking. So it’s rare that a book will snag me and not let go; most books I can put down and savor over time, but there are a few that are NOM NOM NOM and I can’t stop reading. Here are my top ten faves, but in no particular order, mind you:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I think he’s the best storyteller walkin’ the planet right now. Told him so, too. I completely geeked out on him. Sorry, Pat.
Heh. I'd completely geek out on him, too, so you're so NOT alone... *grin* 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. If you’re over 35, read this! If you’re under 35, you might want to read it just to find out what all the old people are talking about. This is the latest book to grab me and I’m still grinning about it.
I will have to check this one out. When an author who tickles your funny bone says he's grinning about a book, you take note of said book...
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Aside from being a cyberpunk masterpiece, it’s turned out to be scarily prophetic about economics—the privatization of formerly public services and corporations running the show is darn close to the truth.

The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman. This is the last big story arc in his comic series, The Sandman. It’s a masterpiece.
I am embarrassed to admit to not having read The Sandman... I shall have to rectify that oversight... *cringes in shame*
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. This is the book that made me want to be a writer. Incredible voice.

The I Inside by Alan Dean Foster. This is out of print now, but you can find it online at various used vendors. Here’s the thing: I could have picked almost any title by Mr. Foster. I’m always entertained by his stories. His Spellsinger series was my first introduction into fantasy—which may explain quite a bit of my approach to writing it. Prior to that, I read sci-fi almost exclusively. Have you ever read his books? He’s prolific and still writing today.
Yet another to add to my oversight list... I don't know, Kevin, you keep growing my TBR pile, and where will I find time to read Tricked??
The Caves of Steel by Issac Asimov remains one of my favorite science fiction books and holds up pretty well. They speak of recording data on tapes rather than silicon chips, but aside from that bit of dating, the story still holds up well today.

Dune by Frank Herbert. Don’t watch the movies. The richness of the world is lost.
Shai-Hulud! The spice melange! House Atreides! Mentats! Bene Gesserits! Who hasn't read Dune? If you haven't, get thee to a bookstore and pick it up!

Hyperion by Dan Simmons. One of the coolest monsters ever in science fiction, the Shrike, doesn’t even show up until near the end of the book, and you don’t know who he’s going to kill next. Wonderful storytelling.

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I’m not sure how to explain this one. Look: Tom Robbins has a way with words matched by very few. Check him out!
Well. what's there left to do but go shopping? *grin* What about y'all? Have you read any (or ALL) of these? What do you think of Kevin's list?

Review & Giveaway: 144. Ashes of a Black Frost by Chris Evans...

October 18, 2011
Hello, Publication Day! Chris Evans' third book in the Iron Elves series is out today!

About the book:
In the bestselling traditions of Terry Brooks, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Bernard Cornwell comes the third novel in the acclaimed epic fantasy series following The Light of Burning Shadows.

Musket and cannon, bow and arrow, and magic and diplomacy vie for supremacy once again in this all-new epic adventure from acclaimed author Chris Evans. As the human-dominated Calahrian Empire struggles to maintain its hold on power in the face of armed rebellion from within, the Iron Elves’ perilous quest to defeat the power-hungry elf witch, the Shadow Monarch, now takes on greater urgency....

Packed with wit, high adventure, and political intrigue, Ashes of Black Frost will hook readers on this bold and exciting series.
Title: Ashes of a Black Frost (Iron Elves #3)
Author: Chris Evans
ISBN-13: 9781439180662
Hardcover: 435 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Pocket Books

drey's thoughts:
Ashes of a Black Frost picks up after the bitterly hard-won battle with Major Konowa Swift Dragon emerging from the haze of blood and guts barely cognizant of those around him. He's lost so much to get to this point, and it's not even a point he wanted to be at. But being a soldier, he has to go on, because the Iron Elves' salvation is the most important task to him. Plus, someone has to kill these obnoxious hordes of evil.

This is still an epic military fantasy read--there's lots of battle, orders, guns, strategies, and guts and gore and death. But there's also the characters caught up in the mayhem and chaos. The Major is one, of course. Worried about his family and friends, missing (yes, even if he only admits it to himself) his crusty Sergeant--one of my favorite characters in this story, trying his best to keep the remnants of his troops alive to get to the end, hoping to get to the Shadow Monarch to end this curse, the Major is a pivotal character in this series. However, my favorite character in this installment is Viceroy Alstonfar, the diplomat-turned-entertaining-solder-and-strategist. He takes the place of Yimt in providing a touch of humor in this otherwise bleak and despairing landscape. And I'll leave the character-talk here since I can't discuss some of the other characters from the series without letting you know whether they're alive or dead, which would be very spoiler-esq. And you all know I don't do spoilers!

Will Konowa find his Iron Elves? Will he be able to free them all from the curse of the Shadow Monarch? You'll have to pick this up and find out. Fans of military fantasy will love this conclusion to Chris Evans' Iron Elves series.

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read Ashes of a Black Frost or Chris Evans' Iron Elves series? What did you think? If you haven't, check out the giveaway below!

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy of Ashes of a Black Frost for you! US residents only, no PO Boxes please. To enter, fill out the form below before November 1st. Good luck!

Reviews: Janet Gurtler's (142.) If I Tell and (143.) I'm Not Her

October 17, 2011
I have two reviews for you today--and both are contemporary YA fiction from Janet Gurtler. I also have a guest post from Janet! Now, how to fit it all into one post...

i'm not her
I'm Not Her was released in May, and tells the story of a girl whose sudden rise in popularity unfortunately coincides with her sister's cancer diagnosis.

"For the first time in my life, I didn't feel envy..."

Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that's okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. But, the smiles of her picture perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn't hold it together, who will?

Janet Gurtler tests the bonds of sisterhood in this moving debut that readers of Jodi Picoult and Sarah Dessen will savor.

Title: I'm Not Her
Author: Janet Gurtler
ISBN-13: 9781402256363
Paperback: 285 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
Janet Gurtler's I'm Not Her is a moving story about a fifteen-year-old dealing with her older sister's cancer. And if dealing with a life-changing (and potentially life-threatening) illness isn't enough, Tess also has to deal with her parents acting like completely delusional dorks about it. (I totally understand that they were having a hard time with the diagnosis; however in my eyes it doesn't excuse their leaving everything in the hands of a fifteen-year-old because they "couldn't handle it"--they're the adults.)

And then there's school. School, where every one of Kristina's friends keep asking Tess where Kristina is and why she isn't in school (delusional parents didn't want anyone to know). School, where Tess has to skip class to accompany her mother to the hospital for Kristina's treatments (again, without being able to tell why). School, where Tess is now noticed (see above); and the other kids are making up stories about her and Kristina because they aren't getting any information. Not easy for a freshman to deal with, that's for sure.

I liked Janet's portrayal of Tess. She's resentful of all the negatives affecting her, and feels guilty for that resentment. She wants her life to stay the way it was, but she knows it's most likely temporary, whereas her sister's life is irrevocably changed. There's nowhere for her to go with this, without feeling like she's selfish. This is YA drama and angst as it should be.

drey's rating: Excellent!

If I Tell explores the ramifications of keeping secrets--your best friend's, your mother's, her boyfriend's--and the mess it can make of your own life...

Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure... people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a onenight stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

Title: If I Tell
Author: Janet Gurtler
ISBN-13: 9781402261039
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
Jaz is seventeen, and the only biracial kid in her small town. At least, as far as she knows. She doesn't have any friends in school, and is thrown into a whirlpool of emotions when she sees her best friend Lacey making out with her mom's boyfriend. And that whirlpool gets deeper and wider when she finds out her mom's pregnant. What a mess!

Jaz can't confide in anyone--the only two people she's ever felt comfortable talking to have betrayed her. So she keeps things bottled up, only to find out that she has too many emotions fizzing inside her all at the same time. And her anger leaks out in spurts and splashes as she lashes out at her (former) best friend, at Simon, and even at her mom.

The emotional roller-coaster Jaz is on pulls you along as it goes up (new boy) and down (facing Simon or Lacey) and up (new friend at school) and down (her mom's emotional state), so much so that you wonder when she's going to let it all out. Which will happen, of course. The only question is when. And where. And who's going to get hurt in the process... (ok, that's more than one question)

This is an addictive read--you can't put it down until you find out how Jaz fares. Excellent teen read covering topics far and wide, including racism, bullying, depression, self-identity, and trust.

drey's rating: Excellent!

Have you read either books? What did you think?

Review: 141. Ganymede by Cherie Priest...

October 15, 2011
I love Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series, and couldn't wait to get my hands on book number three four, Ganymede!

Title: Ganymede (Clockwork Century #4)
Author: Cherie Priest
ISBN-13: 9780765329462
Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: Tor, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Tor

drey's thoughts:
I know I sometimes start things off with an assumption. Sometimes it's valid, sometimes I just can't count--which I guess is what happened when I thought Ganymede was the third Clockwork Century title... How did I miss Clementine??

Oh well. I'll have to hunt that one down. The good news is, reading the Clockwork Century books in order isn't an absolute requirement. Sure, you'll get the backstory straighter than if you hadn't, but Cherie Priest does such an excellent job at introducing new characters and plots that you won't realize you've missed anything... I'll let you know if that holds true once I've gone back upstream and read Clementine!

In Ganymede, former air pirate Andan Cly heads to New Orleans to help out an old friend. Josephine Early is a madam, Union spy, and has ties to the local rebellion. She's also looking for someone to pilot a Confederate submarine lying to the Northern forces waiting in the Gulf. All while avoiding the Confederate and Texian armies, and the local version of Seattle's rotters... Yes, the dead are alive in New Orleans (heh).

The story is entertaining, the characters interesting, I love Huey's enthusiasm for all things techie, and I want more of Josephine and the Ranger. I love this world Cherie Priest has created for us. Where's the next one? *grin*

drey's rating: Excellent!

Have you read Ganymede or any of the Clockwork Century books? What did you think?

Blog Tour: Christopher Meeks' (140.) Love at Absolute Zero...

October 14, 2011
I'm pleased as punch to be part of the blog tour for Christopher Meeks' Love at Absolute Zero... I mean, the main character is a geek, he's in Wisconsin, and his method of finding love is unconventional to say the least!

About the author:
Christopher Meeks began as a playwright and has had three plays produced. Who Lives? A Drama is published. His short stories have been published in Rosebud, The Clackamas Literary Review, The Santa Barbara Review, The Southern California Anthology, The Gander Review, and other journals and are available in two collections, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons. He has two novels, The Brightest Moon of the Century, a story that Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews describes as "a great and truly humane novel in the tradition of Charles Dickens and John Irving," and his new comic novel, Love At Absolute Zero.

Find Christopher online at his website and on twitter.

About the book:
"Love at Absolute Zero" is the story of Gunnar Gunderson, a 32-year-old star physicist at the University of Wisconsin. The moment he’s given tenure at the university, he can only think of one thing: finding a wife. His research falters into what happens to matter near absolute zero (−459.67 °F), but he has an instant new plan. To meet his soul mate within three days--that’s what he wants and the time he can carve out--he will use the Scientific Method. His research team will help. Can Gunnar survive his quest?

“As if Einstein didn’t struggle hard enough failing at a unified field theory,” says Philip Persinger, author of Do The Math, “Meeks ups the ante by tossing philosophy, anthropology, hashish, and love (with a capital L) into the mix. And while we’re so sorry, Uncle Albert, in 'Love At Absolute Zero,' Meeks succeeds absolutely.”

ISBN-13: 9780983632917
ARC: 300 pages
Publisher: White Whisker Books, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository Source: Virtual Author Book Tours

drey's thoughts:
Gunnar Gunderson is a geek (yes, he is) who gets hit with the revelation that he doesn't want to live out the rest of his life alone. So he decides it's time to find love. But where? And how? And oh my gosh, he's only got three days to do it!

So the scientist sets out to conquer matters of the heart,  scientifically (of course). And what follows is sheer entertainment, as he sits thru speed-dating, runs into former classmates, fends off an over-zealous student, and falls--hard--for a Danish visitor. One of my favorite parts of the story is when Gunnar is giving his lecture in Copenhagen. If my Physics professor had started out my class with that, I might not have lost interest completely...

Love at Absolute Zero is funny and warm. Gunnar is so smart, yet has a sense of humor he rarely let show through. His buddies are hilarious, with references to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Extreme Makeover as they attempt to help Gunnar get set up right for his "dates". And boy, the things Gunnar does... I guess when you really want something, you go all out.

There's a lot of physics references thrown around--don't let that intimidate you. You don't need to know what he's talking about, to know this man on a mission isn't going to let anything stand in the way of finding true love. I'm just impressed that Christopher Meeks makes it all sound so easy.

Will Gunnar find his happily-ever-after? Well, you'll have to read Love at Absolute Zero to find out...

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Thanks to Virtual Author Book Tours, I have one copy of Love at Absolute Zero for you. This one is open internationally--an international winner will receive an e-copy, a US/Canada winner will get their choice of an e-copy or a paper copy.  To enter, just fill out the form below before October 28th. Good luck!

Giveaway: Weight of Stone (Vineart War #2)!

October 13, 2011
We're continuing our lead-up to the release of The Shattered Vine, book three of Laura Anne Gilman's Vineart Wars series. Today's giveaway is for the second book, Weight of Stone!

weight of stoneAbout the book:
An island nation has vanished. Men of honor and magic have died unnatural deaths. Slaves flee in terror. . . . Are the silent gods beginning to speak? Or is another force at work in the Lands Vin?

Laura Anne Gilman’s critically acclaimed, Nebula Award–nominated Flesh and Fire introduced a brilliantly imagined world where the grapevine—cultivated by the Vinearts who know the secrets of wine magic—holds together disparate lands. Now, confusion, violence, and terror are sweeping over the Lands Vin. And four people are at the center of a storm.

Jerzy, Vineart apprentice and former slave, was sent by his master to investigate strange happenings—and found himself the target of betrayal. Now he must set out on his own journey, to find the source of the foul taint that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear. By Jerzy’s side are Ao, who lives for commerce and the art of the deal; Mahault, stoic and wise, risking death in flight from her homeland; and Kaïnam, once Named-Heir of an island principality, whose father has fallen into a magic-tangled madness that endangers them all.

These four companions will travel far from the earth and the soul of the vine, sailing along coastlines aflame with fear, confronting sea creatures summoned by darkness, and following winds imbued with malice. Their journey will take them to the very limits of the Sin Washer’s reach . . . and into a battle for the soul of the Lands Vin. For two millennia the Sin Washer’s Commandment has kept these lands in order: Those of magic shall hold no power over men and those princes of power shall hold no magic. Now, that law has given way. And a hidden force seeks the havoc of revenge.

This one's open to US residents only. To enter, fill out the form below before October 27th. Good luck!

Can't wait for the giveaway to be over? Purchase your copy at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

October's FEATURED AUTHOR: Kevin Hearne's books!

October 12, 2011
Ooooh! Today I get to share with you our Featured Author Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles! Yay! Without further ado, here's Atticus!

Book 1: Hounded

Atticus O’Sullivan has been running for two thousand years and he’s a bit tired of it. After he stole a magical sword from the Tuatha Dé Danann (those who became the Sidhe or the Fae) in a first century battle, some of them were furious and gave chase, and some were secretly amused that a Druid had the cheek to defy them. As the centuries passed and Atticus remained an annoyingly long-lived fugitive, those who were furious only grew more so, while others began to aid him in secret.

Now he’s living in Tempe, Arizona, the very last of the Druids, far from where the Fae can easily find him. It’s a place where many paranormals have decided to hide from the troubles of the Old World—from an Icelandic vampire holding a grudge against Thor to a coven of Polish witches who ran from the German Blitzkrieg.

Unfortunately, the very angry Celtic god who wants that sword has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power, plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good, old-fashioned luck of the Irish to kick some arse and deliver himself from evil.
Read the first six chapters of HOUNDED.

Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Book 2: Hexed
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to “make nice” with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial non-aggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. The new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of WWII.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch-hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Book 3: Hammered

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. Plus things are heating up in his home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry Norse gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Book 4: Tricked
(Coming in April 2012; no cover yet)
Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.

But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words.
Pre-order at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

And that's not all! Books 5 and 6 are Trapped and Hunted, and I can't wait to hear more about 'em!

Giveaway: The Light of Burning Shadows (Iron Elves #2)!

October 11, 2011
We're continuing our ramp-up to the release of Chris Evans' third and final Iron Elves book, Ashes of a Black Frost on October 18th with a giveaway for the second book in the series, The Light of Burning Shadows.

light of burning shadows
About the book:
As the human-dominated Calahrian Empire struggles to maintain its hold on power in the face of armed rebellion from within, the Iron Elves’ perilous quest to defeat the power-hungry elf witch, the Shadow Monarch, takes on greater urgency. The Iron Elves, shunned by their own people for bearing the mark of the Shadow Monarch, and desperately wanting to forever erase this shame, became legendary for their prowess on the battlefield as the Calahrian Imperial Army’s elite shock troops. But when their commanding officer, Konowa Swift Dragon, murdered the Viceroy of Elf kyna, he was exiled, and these brave elves were banished to a remote desert outpost, doomed and leaderless, their honor in tatters. Recalled to duty to reform his regiment from the dregs of the Imperial Army, Konowa thwarted the plans of the Shadow Monarch at the Battle of Luuguth Jor—ensuring that the fabled Red Star, a source of great natural energy, did not fall into Her hands.

Now Konowa must cross storm-tossed seas to seek out the lost elves and the prophesied return of another Star somewhere in a desert wasteland roiling with mysterious power, infernos of swirling magic, and legends brought back to life in new and terrible ways. And the fate of every living creature will come to depend on a small band of ragged and desperate soldiers, whose very loyalty to the Empire they have sworn to serve is no longer certain. When death is but a temporary condition, a terrifying question arises: who is the true ally—and fearsome enemy—in a growing conflict that threatens all?

This one's open to US residents only. To enter, fill out the form below before October 25th. Good luck!

Can't wait for the giveaway to be over? Purchase your copy at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

Review: 139. Hounded by Kevin Hearne...

October 10, 2011
I'd seen mentions and reviews of Kevin Hearne's Hammered all over the blogosphere recently, and decided that I needed to check out his Iron Druid Chronicles books. So I started at the beginning...

Title: Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1)
Author: Kevin Hearne
ISBN-13: 9780345522474
Paperback: 289 pages
Publisher: Random House, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:
I finally picked up Hounded, and it sat on my shelves for a week before I gave in to its call. I know, I know, I should be ashamed of myself... But 'tis the truth, and I promised to be honest.

If it makes Atticus O'Sullivan fans feel better though, I regret that wait. This centuries-old druid has definitely found the fountain of youth--and while his tea helps, I firmly believe his attitude and outlook on life has plenty to do with his longevity. He is a smart-mouthed smart-alecky young man who along with his wolfhound Oberon made me laugh out loud. I loved his "translations" of old-time speak into modern-day vernacular, and his gentle chastising of the other long-lived who haven't quite adjusted their speech patterns (yet).

There are gods, a special sword, and lots of action in Hounded. Thank goodness Atticus isn't just a normal dude--he wouldn't have survived. As it is, he's lucky he's still standing after all the dust settles. And after killing gods, you know that what follows is going to keep him on his toes.

Kevin Hearne's Atticus O'Sullivan is going to go on my list of favorite urban fantasy protagonists, and Kevin's on my author-to-stalk list now... Check this series out if you haven't already!

drey's rating: Outstanding! The characters entertain, the plot is crazy yet works well, and the myriad mythological figures makes this a must-read for those who can't get enough of the old(er) gods... I'm off to find Hexed and Hammered, so I can stalk Atticus' next adventures. Don't forget to check out Kevin's visits this month as our Featured Author!

Have you read Hounded? What did you think?

Review: 138. Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton...

October 8, 2011
I thought the premise behind Stealing Mona Lisa was interesting--a tale involving a group of con artists and a crime caper... Where's the movie?

stealing mona lisa
Title: Stealing Mona Lisa
Author: Carson Morton
ISBN-13: 9780312621711
Hardcover: 335 pages 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Wunderkind PR

drey's thoughts:
Carson Morton's retelling of the theft of La Joconde from the Louvre is an entertaining read. His heist crew are an interesting bunch--from the suave gentleman to the street orphan to the pickpocket. His mark is not someone you'll feel bad for. And his storytelling will keep you turning the pages...

We don't start out with the big caper, of course. Instead Morton teases us with a smaller painting, in a smaller location... This is where we meet Mr. Hart and his wife, and while we don't have an active dislike for him yet, we just shrug when he's fleeced. Then the group moves to Paris, and plan for their next (and final?) heist. The big one.

Of course, things don't ever work quite as smoothly as planned.

Stealing Mona Lisa started out a bit slow for me, as we are introduced to the characters. Once they arrive in Paris and start things in motion, however, the story picks up the pace and doesn't slow down until you get to the end. I'd say the back half of the book is definitely worth sticking through the first half if you find the beginning slow going.

drey's rating: Pick it up!

Have you read Stealing Mona Lisa? What did you think?

A lil' chat with Amy Plum!

October 7, 2011
If you haven't heard of Amy Plum or her debut novel Die for Me, where have you been? *grin* In any case, Amy has very kindly agreed to a short Q&A with yours truly, and she has a signed bookmark giveaway for y'all! Read on!

drey: Hello Amy! Welcome to drey's library; thank you for taking the time to do this Q&A!

How long have you known you were meant to be a writer?

Amy: I have always written. But I never imagined that I could do it as a career, so I always wrote for myself and for my friends and family. I'm talking EPIC letters with stories of my experiences in the different places I was living (Chicago, Paris, London, New York). I am convinced that one long-distance relationship I had worked out for as long as it did because I entertained the guy the stories that I sent him by fax (no email back then).

But I never thought I that what I wrote could be published until I had been writing a blog for a few years, and my blog readers insisted that my writing was good enough to try. I only had the confidence to send my first book out to agents because a big group of people who I respected were cheering me on.

drey: I am jealous of all the different places you've lived--all those sights, all the architecture, all the different food! *grin*

What was your first story about? What happened to it?

Amy: The first story I remember writing was a poem about a turkey who didn't want to be eaten for Thanksgiving. It was published in my school newspaper. I was six.

drey: Six! Wow! I'd say that's an early start...

How did you celebrate getting published?

Amy: There were a few celebrations. The night I got my book deal, my husband popped open a bottle of champagne. I was too broke to buy anything until I got my advance (several months later), but once I did I had my “I Heart Revenants” Chuck Taylor Converses made. And my husband and I took a trip to Brazil for a friend's wedding, something we would not have been able to do if it weren't for DIE FOR ME!

But I think the biggest celebration was when my husband and I were sitting in bed with our laptops (we're total nerds that way), and I noticed that the book advance had showed up in my bank account. I immediately began doing online payments for all of my debts and loans, which were considerable (credit cards, students loans, medical bills). And after about ten minutes, I turned to Laurent and said, “Hey guess what? We're debt free.” And we both started bouncing around we were so relieved and happy.

drey: Nice (on both the Converses and being debt free)!

die for meWhat was your inspiration for Die for Me?

Amy: My first book was a memoir, and although it got me my agent, it didn't sell. So I wanted to try a different genre. Since I had just read TWILIGHT, and had had so much fun immersing myself in Stephenie Meyer's stories, I figured it would be an interesting exercise to try to write my own paranormal romance. (Never thinking that it would actually sell.) As for the inspiration behind the story of DIE FOR ME itself, a lot of it is taken from my own experience of living in Paris in my early twenties. Except for the dead guys, of course.

drey: Of course... I doubt there are very many of them wandering around. At least, I hope that's true!

How much is Kate like you, or not?

Amy: Kate is so much like me, it's ridiculous. The big difference between us is that she is much more confident and independent than I was at her age. I wish I had possessed more of her wisdom and insight as a teenager.

drey: Who are some of your favorite authors, and how have their work influenced your Revenants trilogy?

Amy: Mark Helprin is a favorite. What I admire in his writing is the way he seamlessly weaves in a magical world with the everyday world that we all live in. That was something I tried to achieve in DIE FOR ME and its sequels. I love Edward Gorey for his dark gothic humor, and feel that a bit of his morbid comedy has rubbed off on me and my writing. And I admire Madeleine l'Engle for her creative imagination and her delight in words and in learning. Since she was a pillar of my early reading, I like to think that some of her ethos has been infused into my own writing.

drey: There we go--more authors to add to my list to check out... I need more hours in a day!

There are some who say Die for Me is just another take on Meyers' Twilight. What do you say to them?

Amy: I say look a little deeper. If you try to find similarities between our books, you will succeed, as you will if you attempt the same exercise with half of the other paranormal romances out there. (There is a reason the words “paranormal” and “romance” are used to describe them - they are all bound together by similar elements that are necessarily included if you take those two themes and work with them.) But try the same exercise in reverse - what is different about our stories - and I think you will find that the list is longer and more profound.

drey: I agree. And I liked Kate way more than Bella (who's much too angsty for me)...

What are you reading now? What new releases are you anticipating?

Amy: I just read Kelley Armstrong's THE SUMMONING, which I really enjoyed. I'm reading Pablo Neruda's TWENTY LOVE POEMS AND A SONG OF DESPAIR to get me in the mood as I write Book 3 of the DIE FOR ME trilogy. And I am eagerly awaiting Marie Lu's LEGEND and Beth Revis's A MILLION SUNS.

drey: MORE books to check out... Where's that magic gimme-more-time-fairy when you need one? *grin* Thank you for taking the time to do this Q&A, Amy!

Y'all, find Amy online at her website, on facebook, and on twitter. And lucky you, Amy has a signed bookmark for two of you! This one's open internationally. To enter, fill out the form below before October 15. Good luck!

Giveaway: Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1)!

October 6, 2011
Boy, what a week for giveaways! Book three of Laura Anne Gilman's Vineart Wars series--The Shattered Vine--is coming out in a few weeks, and we're celebrating with some giveaways. Today I have for you the first book, Flesh and Fire!

flesh and fire
About the book:
Hailed as "something wholly new" and "extraordinary" in starred reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, Laura Anne Gilman’s Flesh and Fire is as intoxicating as the finest of wines—and as powerful as magic itself. Once, all power in the Vin Lands was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft spellwines, and who selfishly used them to their own gain. Now, fourteen centuries after a demigod shattered the Vine, it is the humble Vinearts who know the secret of crafting spells from wines, the source of magic, and they are prohibited from holding power.

But a new darkness is rising in the vineyards, and only one Vineart, Master Malech, senses the coming danger. He has but one weapon to use against it: a young slave named Jerzy, whose origins are unknown, even to him. Yet his uncanny sense of the Vinearts’ craft offers a hint of greater magics within—magics that Malech must cultivate in his new apprentice before time runs out. For if Jerzy cannot unlock the secrets of the spellwines, the Vin Lands will surely be destroyed.

This one's open to US residents only. To enter, fill out the form below before October 20th. Good luck!

Can't wait for the giveaway to be over? Purchase your copy at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

October's FEATURED AUTHOR: Meet Kevin Hearne!

October 5, 2011
It's October already! Time for pumpkins, Halloween, and our Featured Author for the month, Kevin Hearne!

Kevin is the author of the popular Iron Druid Chronicles, featuring two-thousand-year-old druid Atticus O'Sullivan, and his Irish Wolfhound Oberon.

drey: Hello Kevin! Welcome to drey’s library, and thank you for taking the time to visit us this month as our Author!

Kevin: 'Tis a pleasure.

drey: Please introduce yourself to our readers, in 10 sentences or thereabouts…

kevin hearne
Kevin: I'm a mild-mannered high school English teacher by day, and an even milder writer by night. I kind of wish I had a batcave or something to write in, because that would make my life sound exciting—especially if there was a secret entrance behind a bookcase—but the reality is I write at my kitchen table after dinner. I have a wife, a daughter who likes to draw, and two cute little dogs—a pug and a Boston terrier. In theory, there may be cats in the house, but as they completely ignore me, I'm going to ignore them right back. I imagine they will howl most piteously when they discover I have dissed them on your blog.

drey: Oooh, you are one brave soul, to put up with howling cats... 

How long have you been a writer? When did you realize that this is what you’re meant to do?

Kevin: I started writing in college, after reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Ken Kesey was brilliant. My books aren't in his league, but hopefully people are entertained.

drey: Tell us a little bit about the Iron Druid Chronicles… Why a centuries-old druid (as opposed to anything/anyone else)?

Kevin: Part of it was simply because I'm Irish and interested in Celtic mythology. But another part of it was finding a magic user who could communicate with animals—not as a familiar, but as a true companion—because this was always going to be a series about a man and his dog. Making the man a Druid made more sense than making him a demon or a foul-tempered short-order cook.

drey: True, true... And I love the interactions between Atticus and Oberon--they make me laugh!

Can you share your road to publication? How did you celebrate getting published?

Kevin: It took me nineteen years, so my advice to any aspiring authors out there is to keep writing and don't give up. I wrote several books before I wrote HOUNDED. The story of Atticus and Oberon was actually something to keep me busy and entertained while I was waiting to hear back on another book. That book never got published, but once my agent submitted HOUNDED, four different publishers bid on it in just two weeks. After years of rejection, it was overwhelming to see a reaction like that from editors. But it came about partially through some market analysis: write what you want, by all means—I definitely wanted to write about an ancient Druid living in the modern world—but also keep an eye out for niches on the shelves that you can fill. I celebrated filling the Druid niche by drinking a lot with my friends and family at an Irish pub. :)

drey: Who are some of your favorite urban fantasy authors? What impact have they had on your own work?

Kevin: I like many of the same ones most folks do: Jim Butcher, Carrie Vaughn, Patricia Briggs. Nicole Peeler is brilliant—she always makes me laugh. Every book of hers has a really loud "Bwah hah hah!" in there somewhere for me. Mostly the impact has been an attempt on my part to explore new territory. When you look at Carrie and Patricia's work, they've done werewolves so well that it's difficult to think of how to offer something fresh there. To be different, you almost have to go in the opposite direction, and for me that meant werewolves wouldn't be dominant in my series (heh!) and they'd be lawyers instead of blue-collar types.

drey: Oooh, a new author to stalk--I haven't read Nicole Peeler (yet!), and "bwah hah hah"s are a good thing!

We know that Atticus can slay gods… But let’s play Smackdown: The Urban Fantasy edition. Throw Atticus in the ring against the protagonist of another urban fantasy series. Who’s his opponent, who wins, and why?

Kevin: Regardless of the opponent, it depends on the setting. If you fight Atticus the city, where he's cut off from the power of the earth, you have a shot at winning. If you're outside, he's probably going to take you out, because he's a very skilled martial artist who will never tire so long as he can draw on the earth—and he's immune to most magic.

drey: Dang. I wouldn't want to be on his bad side... Or if I am, I'll have to make sure he's not anywhere near the earth...

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

Kevin: I hug trees. I get out of town and go walking in the forest, watching birds and squirrels and reminding myself that there is much more to life on this planet than whatever's trending on Twitter.

drey: Heh. I tweet when I'm not working, which means I have tweet-spurts followed by a whole lotta nothing...

I haven’t read Hexed or Hammered yet, so don’t know if Hammered is the end of the series. If it is, what’s up next for you? If it isn’t, what can we expect next for Atticus?

Kevin: The series will go on for a while, happily. I'm currently under contract for six books. Book four, TRICKED, will be out April 24, and you can expect some problems with trickster gods in that one. :)

drey: Six books? YAY!! I love it when I can get more of the characters I like... You'll have to visit us again in April!

And last but not least, the quickie-5 (Halloween edition):
  1. The Nightmare before Christmas or The Nightmare on Elm Street?
    Tim Burton for the win! 
  2. Trick or treat?
    Treats are cool. 
  3. Haunted houses or haunted hayrides?
    I prefer houses. 
  4. Costumes: Hand-made or Purchased?
    It's all good. It's just fun. 
  5. Pumpkin pie or pumpkin seeds?
Thanks for doing this Q&A, Kevin!

Everyone, you can find Kevin online at his website, on facebook and twitter. And check out his books--I'll have a showcase up next week, but feel free to pick 'em up anyway. *grin*

Giveaway: A Darkness Forged in Fire (Iron Elves #1)!

October 4, 2011
Chris Evans' third and final Iron Elves book, Ashes of a Black Frost, is coming out October 18th. In celebration, the publisher has kindly organized a series of giveaways. We're starting out today with a copy of the first book, A Darkness Forged in Fire.

About the book:
An unforgiving world of musket and cannon . . . bow and arrow . . . magic, diplomacy, and oaths--each wielding terrible power in an Empire teetering on the brink of war.

Even in this world, Konowa Swift Dragon, former commander of the Empire's elite Iron Elves, is anything but ordinary. He's murdered a Viceroy, been court-martialed, seen his beloved regiment disbanded, and been banished in disgrace to the one place he despises the most--the forest. All he wants is to be left alone, but then an unexpected royal decree orders him to resume his commission as an officer in Her Majesty's Imperial Army, effective immediately.

For in the east, a falling Red Star heralds the return of a long-vanished magic, and rebellion is growing within the Empire as a frantic race to reach the Star unfolds. It is a chance for Konowa to redeem himself--but the entire enterprise appears to be a suicide mission . . . and the soldiers recruited for the task are not quite what he expects. Worst of all, his key adversary to obtain the Star is none other than the dreaded Shadow Monarch, whose machinations for absolute domination spread deeper than Konowa could ever imagine . . .

This one's open to US residents only. To enter, fill out the form below before October 18th. Good luck!

Can't wait for the giveaway to be over? Purchase your copy at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
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