Ashes of a Black Frost (11/1) | The Shattered Vine (11/3)
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drey's Giveaway Policy

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.

Thank You...

May 31, 2010
Just a short note to express my appreciation for those in the military, and their families. Thank you.

59. Pride by Rachel Vincent...

May 30, 2010
Title: Pride (Shifters #3)
Author: Rachel Vincent
ISBN-13: 9780778326496
Publisher: Mira, 2009
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

FTC Disclosure: I own my Epub version of Pride. I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

drey's thoughts:
Well. If you know me at all, you'll know that when I find a series that I really like, I tend to go through the books as fast as I can find 'em and read 'em! And I am really liking Rachel Vincent's Shifters series...

In Pride, Faythe is now on trial. After the fiasco of having her ex-human, ex-boyfriend Andrew killing girls who looked like her, she now finds herself on trial for killing him, even though it was self-defense. Too bad for her the tribunal doesn't care what her explanations are...

Luckily (hah!) for Faythe, the tribunal soon finds something else to distract them from their discussions on whether she lives or dies. There's a pack of strays hanging around, and when the Pride investigates, they do not like what they find. Faythe takes a chance to prove her worth to the Pride. Is she successful? Will she save her own life? And if so, at what cost? The thumb-wringing continues...

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent

Challenges: 100+

Saturday Spotlight: Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep...

May 29, 2010
Today's spotlight is on Jennifer Estep's newly-released (as in, this week!) Web of Lies, book #2 in her Elemental Assassins series...

web of lies

Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I'm Gin Blanco.

You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man . . . dead or alive.

I can't wait to see what trouble Gin gets into (& out of)! Head on over to Jennifer Estep's website to check out the excerpt of Web of Lies as well as the one for Venom, book 3!!

FTC Disclosure: I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

May's FEATURED AUTHOR: How to Get in Trouble...

May 26, 2010
James Rollins, our May Featured Author, swings by today to share thoughts on how (not) to research... 

How to Get into Trouble
At the end of every one of my books, I lay out what’s true and what’s not about each novel. I love mixing fact and fiction until it’s hard to tell them apart, but to do that well involves lots of research: time spent in libraries, doing interviews, etc. But I also love to “get out into the field.” Because of that, my publishing house always likes to portray me as some sort of adventurous novelist in the vein of Hemingway. At one point, they suggested an author photo of me swinging on a vine. That never happened and will NEVER happen.

While I certainly would like to claim to be some adventurous novelist in the tradition of Hemingway, in reality my adventures as a novelist could be better described as MISadventures.

Case in point.

I've always been an avid cave explorer, from the vast systems in Missouri to the lava tubes of Hawaii to the tighter squeezes of the California foothills. Much of this past experience crept into Subterranean, a deep Earth adventure novel. But one of the most frightening episodes of my amateur experience also allowed me to better describe claustrophobia of such enclosed spaces. While climbing out of the fairly technical wild cavern, involving lots of rope work, I managed to jam myself midway up a narrow vertical chute. Hung up on my rappelling gear midway up the chute, I found myself unable to move up or down. My chest was squeezed between two walls, my left knee turned the wrong way. I could not maneuver, and there was not enough room to get a rescue climber to me. The ropes were too taut to haul. I was trapped. I remember the team leader, leaning down from above, shining his helmet lamp at me. “You either find a way to un-jam yourself, or you stay there forever.”

So much for a pep talk or confident reassurance. It was up to me. It was me against Nature (in this case two walls of rock that I was sure were slowly and inexorably pinching tighter and tighter). And I certainly did not want to “stay there forever.” So over the course of a long hour--wriggling, sweating, cursing, and clawing--I managed to creep a millimeter at a time out of the jam. After this event, I had a better understanding for claustrophobia, panic, and determination born of pure desperation.

But spelunking through caves was not my only practical lesson. Two decades ago, I also took up scuba diving and went on dive trips all around the world: Monterey Bay, Hawaii, South Pacific, Australia. It was on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia that my next misadventure occurred. I was informed by the dive master to beware of the many hazards found in the region. “On land, Australia has seven of the ten deadliest snakes. The seas are worse. Box jellyfish can kill in minutes. Local sea snakes are some of the most toxic. But worst of all is the stone fish. It looks like a stone, but its spines are loaded with paralytic poison. So be careful what you touch.”

And down we all went, buddied up in pairs, enthusiastic and excited. I dropped toward the reef and adjusted my buoyancy until I was floating just above the reef. All around spread amazing sights: giant clams, a flurry of colored fish, an astounding variety of coral. But I miscalculated my buoyancy, my weight shifted, and I planted a hand into the sand to stabilize my tumble, careful of the razor-sharp coral. Inches from my thumb, a jagged rock suddenly sprouted fins and swam away. I met the gaze of my buddy diver. His wide eyes firmed up the identification. The deadly stone fish. And I had almost slapped my hand on its back. As the fish scurried away, I understood at that exact moment how little Nature cared about the life of a scuba-diving novelist. Down here, Nature ruled. We were only visitors. This insight became incorporated in my nautical adventure, Deep Fathom.

But Nature was not done with me yet. While researching Amazonia, I spent a week in the Brazilian rainforest. Led by an Aussie naturalist, I spent a long hot day hiking through the jungle. The only relief that day came when we reached a small shaded pool, fed by a trickling creek. We were invited to swim with the usual caution of parasites and other dangers. The water was clear. Freshwater trout sparkled within the depths. Stripping to boxers, I dove into the water and spent a good quarter hour enjoying the cool relief. Finally called to climb out, I swam to the shore and hauled myself back into the heat.

“Did you see the caiman?” my guide asked as I toweled off.

“What?” I turned.

He pointed to the five-foot-long crocodilian carnivore, basking in the tall reeds on the far side. The shock on my face must have amused the guide. “No worry, mate. It's only a small one.”

Now perhaps there was no real danger from this predator, but it made my wonder how much I missed in the jungle, what hidden threats lay all around at any moment. This became the crux of the evolutionary nightmare that became the novel Amazonia. And believe me, the caimans certainly made an appearance in the book…of course, much larger caiman. I think the first one ate an Aussie guide.

And the misadventures continued. While taking a few photographs of a handsome door in Barcelona, I found myself suddenly surrounded by uniformed men, shouting and leveling rifles. The door was a side entrance to the Spanish equivalent of the CIA. They didn't appreciate the amateur “spying.” Then there was the taxi ride from hell through rural China--a solo trip--where the Peoples Republic Army decided it was necessary to search and question the lone American traveler. Then a trip to Rome's catacombs ended up with the lights going out. The tour group sat in the dark crypt for ten minutes, allowing all manner of ghosts to press against us (this mishap became incorporated into Map of Bones).

So I still continue to travel, to research, to journey into strange places. And with each new misadventure, I find new inspiration. That is, as long as I survive the adventure.

Well, James... I think I can say for quite a few people that we're glad you've survived so far. There must be a plan for more of your novels! *grin* Thank you for coming by this month, I hope you've enjoyed it. I certainly have enjoyed your posts, and your Q&A is one of my favorites.

Winners!! Tom Rob Smith's The Secret Speech...

May 25, 2010
More winners!! The 3 lucky ducks are:




Congratulations, y'all! Emails have been sent, please respond with your mailing information before the end of day Friday!

FTC Disclosure: I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

Want the book? Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

"S" giveaway winners!!

I'm late! I'm late! I meant to pick winners on Sunday night, but spent the day wrestling with my wireless connection. Bleh.

ANYWAY. 3 winners. They (& their book choices) are:

bermudaonion & The Secret of Joy!!

Steve Capell & Dear John!!

skkorman & This One is Mine!!

Thank you all for entering, I hope you enjoy the books!

58. Rogue by Rachel Vincent...

May 24, 2010
Title: Rogue (Shifters #2)
Author: Rachel Vincent
ISBN-13: 9780778325550
Publisher: Mira, 2008
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

FTC Disclosure: My copy of Rogue was purchased for my nook after I finished Stray and liked it. I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

drey's thoughts:
So Faythe survived Stray and came out alive, if not exactly smelling like roses... Now she's got problems... Someone is killing toms. And Andrew starts leaving cryptic messages for Faythe. What's going on?

Apparently Faythe's last ex-boyfriend is intent on finding her. And teaching her some lessons. Is he suicidal for heading to Pride lands? Only time (& Rogue) will tell.

I am really enjoying Faythe's story. And while she's still all claws and hiss (heh), she's starting to use her noggin too. Love the sarcasm and humor in the dialogue. Now I'm off to read Pride.

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+

Saturday Spotlight: Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews...

May 22, 2010
Today's spotlight is on Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels #4: Magic Bleeds. I so cannot wait to get more of Kate and Curran.

magic bleeds

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family…

Ooooooh. I have chills already! I'd already have this except I'm waiting for the eBook version for my nook...

FTC Disclosure: I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

Head on over to for more on Kate Daniels.

Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

TLC Book Tours: 57. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke...

May 20, 2010
Today, we have Attica Locke touring with TLC Book Tours for Black Water Rising.

tlc tours

FTC Disclosure: My copy of Black Water Rising was provided by TLC Book Tours for this blog tour. I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

attica lockeAbout the author:
Attica Locke is a writer whose first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, a 2010 NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was longlisted for an Orange Prize in the UK. Attica is also a screenwriter who has written movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, Dreamworks and Silver Pictures. She was also a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter. She is currently at work on her second book. Find her online at

Title: Black Water Rising
Author: Attica Locke
ISBN-13: 9780061735868
Paperback: 427 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2009
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

drey's thoughts:
What do you do when you've given up on your American Dream, because there's no way to get there now, not after you've been betrayed and have a record? Well... You make do. Make as good a life as you can. Especially when you love your wife, and she's expecting a new addition to the family.

And that's exactly what Jay Porter does. Eking out a living as an attorney who's barely making ends meet, he has "connections" arrange for a nice boat ride on the bayou to celebrate his wife's birthday. Midway into the celebration, they hear gunshots and rescue a woman who comes stumbling into the bayou. And Jay gets dragged kicking and screaming into a plot so convoluted, he doesn't believe it even when he finally realizes it.

Attica Locke's Black Water Rising was not an easy read--there were so many things going on that I almost took notes to keep track of it all. But it's wrapped up nicely in the end. Give it a try for some summer reading.

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub

May's FEATURED AUTHOR: James' list...

May 19, 2010
James Rollins, our May Featured Author, swings by today to share some of his favorite books... Come and see what he has to share with us!.

FTC Disclosure: I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

Let’s talk books! And let’s be specific! As a writer of both fantasies and thrillers, my tastes in reading are more defined by what I don’t read. I love to read across a wide gamut of genres (with an occasional nonfiction book thrown in there…right now, I’m reading Sebastian Junger’s War). But if I had to define a personal taste in genres I’d label it as “speculative fiction.”

While I’ve read lots of straight-laced mysteries over the years, I can’t say they’re my cup of tea. Though I do particularly enjoy Nevada Barr’s series because of the deep naturalism of her stories. I might not get to visit every State Park, but I get to vicariously through the adventures of Anna Pigeon. What I generally prefer are mysteries with a little extra something in them, like the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Or going back further to Isaac Asimov’s series featuring a human detective and his robot sidekick R. Daneel Olivaw (Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, etc.).

And speaking of science fiction, I could wax poetic about dozens and dozens of authors from the golden age of scifi to today. Here are a few of my favorites (some classics, some not so much):

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

(and yes, I’m classifying the above 3 as science fiction, though you won’t find those books in the scifi section of a book store.)

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Dune by Frank Herbert

Ringworld by Larry Niven

The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov

Link by Walt W. Becker

Moving onto horror, again pretty much any early Stephen King and Dean Koontz are fine by me, but I thought I’d jot down a few that really struck home for me. Again, some are classics, some are a bit more obscure.

Vespers by Jeff Rovin

Salem's Lot by Stephen King (and a close second place, The Shining)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Watchers by Dean Koontz

In the fantasy field, I go old school and new here, from Tolkien to Rothfuss. Here’s the list:

Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Lamb, the Gospel according to Biff by Christopher Moore

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

As with mysteries, I also prefer my thrillers that are a bit on the “speculative” side, too. Though that said, I’d never miss a Lee Child novel. Here’s again a fast list of some of my all-time favorites:

Temple by Mathew Reilly

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Ice Reich by William Dietrich

The Romanov Prophecy by Steve Berry

Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell

Hooked: A Thriller About Love and Other Addictions by Matt Richtel

Regressing to my childhood, I thought I’d talk middle-school and YA (since I also just started a series in this genre). As a kid, I cut my teeth on the old Jupiter Jones series and Danny Dunn, but there’s some great stuff out there now. I don’t have to mention Harry Potter, do I? Plus a couple of my favorites out now:

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

And going old school, the novel that made me want to be a veterinarian:

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

And I must say I do occasionally sneak off the genre reservation and read the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction every year. One of the most influential (and a book that made me look at prose in an entirely new light and to this day I think helped turn me into a published author) is The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. What she does with language is breathtaking, frustrating, and mindboggling.

Another such author is Dan Simmons. I’ve been reading his books since he won a horror award for his absolutely disturbing novel, Song of Kali. He’s since gone on to win awards in science fiction (Hyperion) and gained literary accolades for his latest novels (The Terror and Drood). But my favorite book of his remains Carrion Comfort. You want to see how to do vampires really well, read that book.

Lastly, I must also acknowledge the books that made me want to write as a young Midwestern school boy. I devoured truckloads of the old Bantam reprints of the pulp classics from the 30s and 40s. But the best of them all was the Doc Savage series, written by various authors under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. I still have all 181 (plus 1) of those novels still sitting on a hallowed place on my library bookshelf.

So that’s it. I’m off to curl up with a good book.

My goodness. Is that a list or what?? Some of 'em are on my list too, and some are new-to-me. I'm off to add them to my library holds. What do you think of James' list?

56. Stray by Rachel Vincent...

May 17, 2010
strayTitle: Stray (Shifters #1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
ISBN-13: 9780778324218
Publisher: Mira, 2007
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

FTC Disclosure: My copy of Stray was purchased for my nook on my latest trip. I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

drey's thoughts:
I've been following Rachel Vincent's blog pretty much since I started blogging, but have only just now picked up her Shifters series. And I have to say, I shouldn't have waited so long--Stray was quite an enjoyable read, some of the hard scenes notwithstanding.

Faythe just can't catch a break. Even when she's gotten some freedom from the Pride, there's someone watching over her. And then she's summoned home. Which she responds to with a whole lot of attitude, attitude that she feels they deserve, until she finds out why she's been summoned home. Apparently someone has been kidnapping female werecats.

Here is where I expected Faythe to step up and help out. Which she does, but with attitude intact, which I didn't quite get. And the whole Marc-Jace-Faythe thing didn't quite ring true for me. Marc and Faythe, yes. Jace? Hmm... And while we're on the subject of love interests, whatever on earth happened to Andrew?

Anyway, Faythe gets herself well and truly tangled up in the whole kidnapping plot, and somehow manages to come out alive (which isn't really a spoiler, since this is a #1 book and that implies more Faythe, right?).

Stray is an entertaining read for those who live urban fantasy & shifters, but wanted something other than those of the canine variety. How much different are cats from dogs? Well, you'll just have to pick this up and find out.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good

Challenges: 100+

Winner: giveaway!!

May 16, 2010
Well. I am on time for this giveaway announcement (at least it's on the day the giveaway ended!). Randomizer picked comment #21 to win a historical fiction book, and that is...

Debbie F, who picked Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants!

Congratulations, Debbie. Please get me your mailing information before the end of day Wednesday, and thank you for stopping by!

FTC Disclosure: I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation. 

Want the book? Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon.

Saturday Spotlight: Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs...

May 15, 2010
Today's spotlight is on the latest addition to Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, Silver Borne.

I love Mercy, and I cannot wait to get my hands on this. I'm just trying to decide if I want it in hardcover, wait for the paperback (because that's what all my other copies are in), or get the whole dang collection onto my nook! Rock, paper, scissors?

silver borne

When mechanic and shapeshifter Mercy Thompson attempts to return a powerful Fae book she'd previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.

It seems the book contains secret knowledge-and the Fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn't take enough of Mercy's attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side-leaving Mercy to cover for him, lest his own father declare Sam's life forfeit.

All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn't careful, she might not have many more to live...

Find Patricia Briggs online at her website, Check it out to see what she has to say about Silver Borne and for an excerpt!

Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

55. Lone Star Legend by Gwendolyn Zepeda...

May 14, 2010
lone star legend
Title: Lone Star Legend
Author: Gwendolyn Zepeda
ISBN-13: 9780446539609
Paperback: 327 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon

FTC Disclosure: My copy of Lone Star Legend was provided by Hachette Book Group for this review. I am an IndieBound and Amazon affiliate, and any purchases made by clicking on the cover or the links provided may result in monetary compensation.

drey's thoughts:
I loved Gwendolyn Zepeda's Houston, We Have a Problema, and was looking forward to Lone Star Legend. Of course, you know how things have been going for me so far this year. It got so crazy that I lost track of my TBR pile, and didn't get around to reading Lone Star Legend till recently.

Which is a shame. Sandy's story pulled me in, slowly but surely... And not because of the blogger angle, either, but because of the characters. Sandy could be somebody I know in real life. She follows her heart, and gets into trouble, but still tries to do good. Tio Jaime is awesome! I wish he was in my family!

Add this to your summer pile. You won't regret it.

drey's rating: 3.5/5 Very Good

Challenges: 100+, Pub
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