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.

Winners! The Discovery of Socket Greeny & Tax Day Giveaway!

April 29, 2011
Alright, it's time to announce more winners. First, the winners for Tony Bertauski's The Discovery of Socket Greeny... Randomizer went to work, and the lucky ducks are:

Krystal Larson!!!

Kris Summers!!

Krystal won the hard copy, and Kris won the e-copy.

Next, the winner of my Happy Tax Day giveaway! This lucky duck is getting a $15 gift certificate to either Barnes & Noble or Amazon. According to Randomizer, this lucky duck is...


Congratulations, everyone! Emails have gone out, please respond!

Review: 54. The Discovery of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski...

the discovery of socket greenyTitle: The Discovery of Socket Greeny (Socket Greeny #1)
Author: Tony Bertauski
ISBN-10: 0982845200
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Tony Bertauski

drey's thoughts:
Socket Greeny is a teenager whose father is dead and mother works a ton and is never home. So he hangs out with his best friends Scooter and Chute all the time; but I imagine he'd still hang out with them all the time anyway. The three like playing in virtualmode, which is kinda like the next step for today's MMORPGS (massive multi-player online role-playing games)--it's virtual, there are multiple massive worlds, and everyone has avatars. But in virtualmode, you're there, and experiencing everything your sim does (within limits, of course). One day while in virtualmode, the three are attacked and Socket does something to save them.

Next thing you know, his mom's picking him up and taking him to a super-secret facility where he's poked and prodded. Talking droids offer him everything from advice to warnings. And he finds out that his mom works for the Paladin Nation, who're pretty much the entity that saves the world from ourselves, and he has special powers that the Paladin Nation is interested in.

The next section of the book details Socket's stay with the Paladin Nation, where he learns more about his father and meets new characters--some nice, some not so. Then he returns to the real world and finds out that the virtual sims (called duplicates) are mounting a coup, and it's a race against time to shut them off before the world as he knows it disappears (along with him in it).

The storyline jumps around in the beginning: here's Socket and his friends; wait, now there's Socket in the Paladin Nation. You bounce from his friends to unknown mind-readers and fantastical creatures. The story settles somewhat in the Paladin Nation while Socket makes his discoveries, then you're jumping back into reality where he's trying to patch up his friendships (well he had been gone for a while...). Overall, though, you'll enjoy meeting Socket and exploring the world where technology and science-fiction meet a stubborn teenager who's willing to mouth off if he thinks he can get away with it.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good: A bit lengthy in parts, but you'll be rooting for Socket and his friends.

Review: 53. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead...

April 28, 2011
I had to wait a while before getting around to reading Last Sacrifice, but there's no way I would've missed finding out what happens!

last sacrificeTitle: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
Author: Richelle Mead
ISBN-13: 9781595143068
Hardcover: 594 pages
Publisher: Penguin, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Waukesha Public Library

drey's thoughts:
Framed for a murder she didn't commit, Last Sacrifice opens with Rose in a cell awaiting justice. How is she going to find the true killer before her judgement is passed and executed? Especially from behind bars?

Don't worry, there's a plan--there's always a plan. This one makes unlikely partners of Abe, Lissa, Adrian, and Dimitri. Yes, Dimitri. Which complicates things quite a bit, for Rose and Adrian both. Because the plan involves Dimitri spiriting Rose away and hiding her so that she can't be executed. And while she's in hiding, her friends are going to find the real killer. Of course, Rose being Rose, she can't just sit around doing nothing, so she uses a clue to hunt someone down.

Keeping busy does have its advantages, of course. It keeps her from having to talk to Dimitri, much less look at him or be around him. Yes, Rose is pulling her disappearing tricks again... The thing I like about Rose? She's so logical about her decisions if not her motives. I thought there were sections of Rose's journey that were unnecessary, but for the most part the plot flowed smoothly and quickly so I'm not complaining. There's a lot of seeing-through-Lissa via their bond, there's a lot of dream-sharing with Adrian, and there's a lot of Dimitri-and-Rose tension. Never fear, this being the last of the series, you'll find out if everyone gets their happily-ever-after. 

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent! A fitting send-off to Mead's Vampire Academy series!

Have you read Last Sacrifice? What did you think?

Vampire Academy reading order:
1. Vampire Academy
2. Frostbite
3. Shadow Kiss
4. Blood Promise
5. Spirit Bound
6. Last Sacrifice

April's FEATURED AUTHOR: Tony Bertauski and baseball..

April 27, 2011
Today I'm happy to have Tony Bertauski--April's Featured Author--stopping by with a guest post about that All-American sport--baseball, panic, and self-consciousness. In that order.


One hundred and thirty feet may as well be a mile.

In the summer, I’d throw a baseball against a brick wall for hours, fielding the grounders that bounced back. When my friends came over, we’d carry bats, balls and glove to an open lot and play until dark. The bases were dirt spots. A homerun was over the alley. We’d sneak into yards to get our baseballs back. That was half the fun.

I wasn’t the best ballplayer. Wasn’t the worst. I’d check the paper every day, read the Little League box scores. When I went 4 for 4, I swelled with pride. Hitless and my face sunk to the floor, convinced everyone in our small town was laughing. What the papers didn’t show was the thrill of a solid put-out, when a ground ball is hit over third base and I pick it with a clean backhand, plant and fire across the field in time to get the runner by a half step. No, the papers don’t show that. They can’t capture the flow a surfer feels when they connect with a wave or a skateboarder nailing a flawless trick. And they can’t capture the beauty of a graceful put-out.

But in high school, I discovered the power of the mind.

I was still playing third base. We were warming up. I was throwing thirty feet, putting the ball chest-high every time like I’d done a thousand times. It was effortless. I marveled how perfect each throw was. How I tossed the ball without thought. How it went right where I wanted it to go. Every time. Thirty feet, that’s a long way. I was suddenly conscious of my fingers on the seams. The leather texture. How my elbow bent and how far I took my arm back.

The next throw sailed twenty feet in the air.

I tried to forget it. But my mind had seized on it. My fingers became talons. My hand a claw. Forget third base, I couldn’t throw the ball ten feet! My teammates thought I was goofing. I didn’t know how to explain it. When I was at home, I went back to the brick wall, but the more I practiced, the harder I tried, the worse it got. Panic strangled me.

At some point, I threw sidearm. The ball came out perfect. I changed my motion, the follow-through, it broke the grip my mind had on my body. Now I just needed to keep my mind away from it. Mercifully, the coach moved me to second base where I ended my baseball career by the age of eighteen. And, unfortunately, happy to do so.

But that moment started a new chapter of self-consciousness. I was afraid of my mind. And eventually became a prisoner of that fear. The only way out was to embark on a journey of understanding. After twenty-some years of meditation and practice, some of that self-consciousness has transformed into self-awareness. I’ve learned the difference between thoughts and presence.

Still, when I see a third baseman field the last out of the World Series, plant his foot and throw 130' to first base, I’m amazed at the grace with which he does it.

Thank you for stopping in this month, Tony. I've enjoyed your posts & your As to my Qs! Come and visit us again soon.

To keep up with Tony, check in on his blog: In the Self-Centered Dream.

Winners! Eternal Rider & Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza!

April 26, 2011
More winner announcements! Three lucky ducks are getting a copy of Larissa Ione's Eternal Rider from the publisher. According to Randomizer, they are:

JoAnna B!!

connie black!!

Chelsea B.!!

Next up is the winner of my Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza giveaway... I'd like to thank Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and the folks at Once Upon a Twilight for hosting!

321 people entered! I'm amazed... But I'm thankful for those who took the time to swing by. So I'm picking not just one, but TWO winners!

The first is jennifer kalman!! The second is Briana (The Book Pixie)!!

Congratulations, y'all! Emails are on the way, please reply before the end of day Friday!

Review: 52. Rock Hard by Olivia Cunning...

Who doesn't want to read sexy hot romances with rock stars at the heart of it?

rock hard
Title: Rock Hard (Sinners on Tour #2)
Author: Olivia Cunning
ISBN-13: 9781402245770
ARC: 431 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Sourcebooks

drey's thoughts:
Rock Hard starts off with a bang, and doesn't let up throughout the entire book. This time the focus is on the bad-boy lead singer Sed Lionheart, and his ex-fiancée Jessica. Sed's not one to hold back on his opinions, and that in itself wouldn't be so bad except for his penchant to say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. You ever hear "it's not what you say, it's how you say it"? Well, when it's Sed we're talking about, it is what he says, too...

Like when he tells Jessica that she can't go to law school because he forbids it. And then he wonders why she left... Then she's back on the bus as Myrna's new assistant and everything is tense, tense, tense. Not only between Sed and Jessica, but the other band members are still mad at her for walking out. Although, it really isn't any of their business... 

Of course, being in such close quarters means that Sed and Jessica really can't avoid each other, and things get hot and heavy before you can say "hot and heavy"... And Olivia Cunning rocks at writing love scenes so sexy you'll wish for a fan. Not only that, she's also created characters that you want to like, and want to succeed in their quest for love. I cannot wait for Trey's and Jace's turns...

Is the cranky rake ready to reform his ways? Is the stubborn beauty going to give him another chance? You'll have to read this to find out (but I'll give you a hint, it is a romance)!

drey's rating: 3/5 Good: Olivia Cunning's second Sinners on Tour book is just as steamy as her first! Phew!

Winners: Last Snow and Fallen Star!

April 25, 2011
I have winners to announce, yay!

The first is for two copies of Eric Van Lustbader's Last Snow, courtesy of Authorsontheweb. They go to...

Carol M!!

Kris Summers!!

The next is for a copy of Ian Barker's Fallen Star, and it goes to...

Melissa V.!!

Emails have gone out, I'll have to pick new winners if I don't hear back by the end of day Thursday. Congratulations, y'all!!

Review: 51. Sins of the House of Borgia by Sarah Bower...

I will admit to ignorance where it concerns the Borgias--but the Showtime series has piqued my curiosity. Unfortunately, I don't subscribe to Showtime (& would probably pick up HBO first for the Game of Thrones series), so I guess this was my substitute...

sins of the house of borgia
Title: Sins of the House of Borgia
Author: Sarah Bower
ISBN-13: 9781402259630
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
Sins of the House of Borgia is a story of a young girl who gets embroiled in a game of politics that opens her eyes to the seedy side of religion and costs her more than she can afford to lose. Her mother's dead. Her father sends her to serve as lady-in-waiting to the Pope's illegitimate daughter. She is baptized, renamed, and nicknamed. All that she has ever known, from her prayers to her meals, have changed.

Then she meets her mistress' brother Cesare, and loses her heart. And in doing so she dooms herself.

There are no redeeming characters in Sins of the House of Borgia. Violante is silly and immature, playing in waters too deep for her by far. Lucrezia Borgia is spoiled by her position as her father's daughter, and spends her days trying to secure her position as her husband's wife--not that it stops her from dallying with others. Cesare is wickedly rakish and unrepentant about it. And all of them have their part to play in the scheming intrigues of the Church.

Fans of Philippa Gregory's work around the English monarchy will love Sarah Bower's portrayal of this Renaissance family.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good: The story was just a tad too long but it is an engrossing read for historical fiction fans...

Have you read The Sins of the House of Borgia? What did you think?

Lookee here! It's the first 5 pages of Richelle Mead's Storm Born graphic novel!

April 23, 2011
O.M.G. Do I have some pictures for you!! Thanks to Sea Lion Books, here are the first 5 pages of the first issue of Richelle Mead's Storm Born graphic novel! Enjoy (& try not to drool all over your computer...)!!

Storm Born #1 cover

Storm Born #1 page 1

Storm Born #1 page 2

Storm Born #1 page 3

Storm Born #1 page 4

Storm Born #1 page 5

Review: 50. Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep...

April 22, 2011
I love Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series, and couldn't wait to get my mitts on the latest offering, Tangled Threads! *squeal*

tangled threads
Title: Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin #4)
Author: Jennifer Estep
ISBN-13: 9781439192634
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Jennifer Estep

drey's thoughts:
Well. Gin's declared war on Mab Monroe, and Mab's bringing out the big guns. This one's in the form of another assassin set on Gin's trail, Elektra LaFleur. Gin's all set to let LaFleur hunt and peck around Ashland looking for her, because she has more fun things she'd rather do, like a certain yummy dude. Then she finds out a little girl's been kidnapped. On her way to rescue the little girl, she learns that Mab's next target for LaFleur--after the Spider, of course--is Bria.

Ah, Mab. You don't mess with an assassin's baby sister. Then again, Mab doesn't know who Gin really is... I almost feel sorry for her. Ok, I'm over that now.

Gin fights a lot in this installment--from giants and vamps to elementals who'll fry you with lightning and laugh while you twitch. Luckily for her, she's not hurt quite as badly here as she was in Venom. And while she's fending off the twitches, she also learns more about how some of her powers work, which is never a bad thing.

Of course, this deadly killer isn't all work and no play. Her budding romance brings up a few insecurities, but the guy comes through for her--this one's a keeper! Her sarcastic wit shows up in rare form. And the strength of her magical abilities continues to astound.

The action starts off just about right away, albeit a little slower in the beginning (you really can't call a stake-out "fast-paced") before running on all cylinders for the rest of the book. There's only one downside to this--you'll be anxiously waiting for Spider's Revenge to come out so you can find out what happens next.

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent! Gin is amazing in this fourth installment of Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series. Go pick this up if you like hard-hitting urban fantasy with a lil' romance to soften it up a bit...

Have you read Jennifer's Elemental Assassin series or Tangled Webs? What did you think? If you haven't, check out Jennifer's Extras page for excerpts and short stories:

Elemental Assassin reading order:
1. Spider's Bite
2. Web of Lies
3. Venom
4. Tangled Threads

Jennifer Estep talks about her favorite paranormal TV shows!

April 21, 2011
I am so excited to have Jennifer Estep stopping by to say "hi" (and a few more words!) to us today! AND *squeal!* she has a giveaway for y'all!! w00t!!

Why is she here? Well, 'cuz she loves me of course! *grin* Yeah, that and she's touring for Tangled Threads (see the list of Tangled Threads tour stops here). Ok, before I take up ALL the space here (& leave none for Jennifer), here she is:

Greetings and salutations! I want to say thanks to Drey for having me on the blog today. Thanks, Drey!
drey: like I would EVER not have Jennifer stop in...

I love to read and write fantasy books, but I also enjoy paranormal TV shows too. Seriously. I watch waay too much TV, and fantasy shows have been some of my favorites over the years. So today, I thought I’d share some of the paranormal shows that I’ve loved over the years:

Charmed: Charmed was all about sisterhood and girl power. More than that, it was just fun, like Charlie’s Angels but with magic. I enjoyed watching the Halliwell sisters grow and change over the years – and kick lots of demon butt along the way.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ah, Buffy. You had to deal with vampires, monsters, and more, along with high school. You didn’t have it easy, but it was entertaining watching your weekly struggles, especially when it came to Spike and how you really felt about him.

Wonder Woman: I remembered loving this show as a kid, and not too long ago, I went back and watched the DVDs. Admittedly, the show hasn’t aged all that well (especially when it comes to the special effects used), but there’s still something magical about the Amazon princess and watching her save the world on a weekly basis.

Xena: Warrior Princess: I loved this show because it was an unabashedly fun and campy send-up of mythology. Plus, Xena was such a great heroine – strong and conflicted at the same time, trying to be a good person as she struggled with her darker nature.

Alias: Okay, okay, so this one is more of a spy show, but there were plenty of fantasy elements, especially the crazy costumes that Sydney Bristow wore every week. But no matter how she was dressed, Sydney always managed to save the day – and look good doing it. LOL.

What about you guys? What are some of your favorite fantasy TV shows and books? Share in the comments.

About Jennifer Estep:
Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Books in the series are Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, and Venom. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published on April 26, while Spider’s Revenge, the fifth book, will be released in October.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.

The first book, Touch of Frost, will be out in August, while the second book, Kiss of Frost, will hit shelves in December. First Frost, a prequel e-short story to the series, will be out in July.

Visit for excerpts and more!

Thanks for including me on your blog tour, Jennifer! I loved Tangled Threads and can't wait for Spider's Revenge!

Jennifer has one copy of her latest Elemental Assassins book for you--Tangled Threads!! This is for US/Canada only. To enter, fill out this form, then comment and share some of your favorite fantasy TV shows and books with Jennifer. Do it before 6pm CST May 4th.

April's FEATURED AUTHOR: Books Tony reads...

April 20, 2011
Good morning, y'all! Today, April's Featured Author Tony Bertauski shares what he likes to read--and why...

My grandpa was uneducated. He spent most his life in a steel mill outside Chicago. When he wasn’t working, he was reading. It was mostly paperback sci-fi novels, easy ones he could rip through in a day. When he was finished with one, he’d put it on one of many bookshelves throughout the house. I remember sneaking through his closet filled with retired books and the smell of old paper. The spines creased, splitting names like Asimov and Anthony.

I read a lot of those musty books. Dune is the one I remember most. Herbert created this entire universe and philosophy. I couldn’t imagine how someone would make up something that complex and detailed. I went back to it when I was older, ended up reading every book in the series.

However, I didn’t share my grandpa’s reading addiction. In fact, I’m more likely to put a book down than finish it. I don’t feel a need to plow through something that I’m not enjoying. I want a book to carry me on its wings, not make me climb a mountain.

I give most books 50 pages, but I usually know if I like it on the first couple. It’s the voice, mainly. Style, too. It’s the whole “show, don’t tell” thing that makes writing hard. The concept sounds easy until you try it. It’s easy to tell the reader your character is sad or angry or emotionally unstable, but it's much harder to demonstrate that with a scene or dialog that’s not extraneous. But when the writer can parse his or her words and capture the essence of the character, make me feel what’s going on, then they have my full attention.

Lately, I’ve been putting a lot of books down. Many are well-written, just not my flavor. In the last year, I started reviewing each book on Goodreads, LibraryThing and Amazon. As a writer, I’m sensitive to the author, not that many of them read reviews. Keep it constructive, not necessarily positive. Because of that, I’m much more open to my own reviews, which aren’t always positive but usually constructive.

Nowadays, I’m usually reading YA. Books that I’ve read to the end? Unwind by Neal Shusterman sits firmly on top my YA sci-fi list. Well-crafted. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson takes a close second. The entire Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins was an enjoyable ride.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness was an interesting read. There were aspects that made it difficult to read, in particular the style of dialog. But it was engrossing. However, I got to the end of book three, The Monsters of Men, which was over a thousand pages into the trilogy, and I quit with 50 pages to go, speed-reading at light speed to the last page. It was too long. Felt repetitive, at times. I was exhausted by the characters and just wanted it to be over.

My favorite writing style this year? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Based on reviews, it appears to be a love or hate style. It’s metaphor rich, and not all of them make sense. But it’s the first book that had flavor.

My favorite voice this year? Years ago, I discovered what voice meant in writing when I read Pulitzer Prizing winner The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. This year is was Laurie Halse Anderson. I read Wintergirls and Speak, not my usual fare but came recommended by my daughter. In my opinion, one of the best YA writers out there. Like Sean Penn disappears into Harvey Milk and Tom Hanks into Forrest Gump, Anderson transforms into the voice of a teenage girl. It’s mesmerizing, no matter what the topic.

Reading something that good makes me a better writer. Just a little bit.

Thanks for your thoughts, Tony! I loved The Book Thief, and made it through every single Dune book (at least, till the ones his son put out). Anderson is on my list of authors to pick up, I just haven't gotten there yet. And you've added to my to-read pile now, thanks. (yes, that was sarcasm...)

Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop!!

I've been seeing these giveaway hops all over the blogosphere, and decided to give this a whirl... This Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Blog Hop is hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Once Upon a Twilight, and will run from 12:01 AM April 20th to 11:59 PM April 25th.

For this first hop (heh, I picked Easter to "hop in"), I am keeping it really simple. The prize? A book of your choice from The Book Depository. The caveats? A $15 limit, AND they must be able to ship to you, so please check!

You're not required to follow to enter, but I love followers, so bonus points will be awarded. Do as much or as little as you feel like.

To enter, fill out the form below, and do it before 11:59PM April 25. See? Easy peasy. *grin*

Randomizer will pick a winner, and I will notify via email. You'll have 48 hours to reply, after which I'll pick a new winner.

Good luck, thanks for hopping in, and feel free to leave a comment to say "hi" (or something)! To find the other 200+ blogs in this hop, go to I am a Reader Not a Writer's giveaway hop page.

Review: 49. Thr3e by Ted Dekker...

April 19, 2011
After a few serious urban fantasy reads, I thought a bit of thriller/suspense would be just what the doctor ordered! And lookee here, it's Ted Dekker...

Title: Three (Thr3e)
Author: Ted Dekker
ISBN-13: 9781599953144
Paperback: 398 pages
Publisher: Center Street, 2010
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Hachette Book Group

drey's thoughts:
Dekker's Thr3e is an engrossing read about a guy who is targeted by a madman who's going to kill him if he doesn't confess his biggest sin. The problem? Kevin has no clue what sin he's supposed to confess. Orphaned at a young age, he's had a hard childhood, but is finally getting his life on track. Or is he?

When the madman gets Kevin's childhood best friend Samantha involved, Kevin has no choice but to relive his most traumatic memories, and face the fact that he may have something to confess after all. But can he do it? He'll have to decide quickly, as lives are on the line...

Ted Dekker weaves a compellingly suspenseful tale of a man caught between his desire to protect all that is good and his aversion to all that is evil. How, then, can he save Samantha--and himself?

You will not put this one down until you're done. I'd say more, but I'm afraid that would give it all away and you know I don't do spoilers. *grin* Read it for yourself!

drey's rating: 4/5 Excellent

Have you read Thr3e? What did you think?

Review: 48. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire...

April 18, 2011
Hmm... I've found another series where I've skipped writing reviews. I will have to re-read and catch up on reviews for A Local Habitation and An Artificial Night...

late eclipses
Title: Late Eclipses (October Daye #4)
Author: Seanan McGuire
ISBN-13: 9780756406660
Publisher: Penguin, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Purchased

drey's thoughts:
I love Toby Daye--she's definitely up there with my other favorite kick-ass heroines: Joanne (Walker), Mercy (Thompson), Jane (Yellowrock), and Gin (Blanco). Why? Well, she's snarky. She kicks ass. And she does everything she can for all the right reasons, even if it's unappreciated.

Toby barely made it through An Artificial Night, and things don't slow down for this changeling-knight-and-P.I. in Late Eclipses. Sure, it starts off with something as mundane as grocery shopping with her posse (all two of 'em!), but she's almost immediately summoned to an audience with the Queen of the Mists. Then she finds out the Lady of the Tea Gardens is sick and possibly dying, and nobody knows how or why. If that's not enough on her plate, Toby is found with a poisoned Luna in her arms at a ball, and slowly but surely comes the realization that someone is killing those closest to her--and blaming her for the deaths... The cherry on top? She has to wear dresses! The horror!

There are not too many new faces in Late Eclipses; most of the characters here were introduced in prior installments. My favorite? Tybalt. The enigmatic ruler of the Cait Sidhe helps protect the denizens of the Tea Gardens, and I love that Toby wears his jacket (except when going to visit the Queen). He's strong, loyal, and honorable--what's not to like? Then there's Connor, but I do wish that Toby would avoid married men (even when they're married to crazy loonies, and yes, even if they had a history).

And lest you start thinking that Late Eclipses is all about the characters or the romantic possibilities, rest assured that there's plenty of plot and action to follow--especially as she's frantically trying to figure this out on her own. The Luidaeg is sitting this one out, the Duke is laid low by his wife's illness, and Lily's ailing. Poor Toby. She needs more friends...

This is not a book to read in spurts--you'll want to set aside enough time to get from cover to cover, because you won't want to put it down once you start. And the revelations are enough to make me antsy for the next October Daye book. One Salt Sea is coming in September. Hurry up already! *grin*

drey's rating: 5/5 Outstanding! Urban fantasy fans who haven't read Seanan McGuire's October Daye series should give it a try for the realistically dark storytelling that will grab your attention and not let go until you've run out of pages--and even then, very reluctantly.

Have you read Seanan McGuire's October Daye series or Late Eclipses? What did you think? And if you haven't, make sure you read 'em in order:
1. Rosemary and Rue
2. A Local Habitation
3. An Artificial Night
4. Late Eclipses


April 16, 2011
I have winners to pick & announce. The first one is for L.A. Banks' Surrender the Dark. The two winners are:



Next, the winner of Michael Connelly's The Fifth Witness is...


Congratulations, everybody! Emails have gone out, please respond by the end of day Tuesday. Thanks for swinging by!

Happy Tax Day...

April 15, 2011
Happy Tax Day, y'all! Um, yeah... I finally got mine done a few weeks ago--phew! I hate this dang day, and thought I'd make it a little happier for one of you.

So, I'm offering you $15 gift card (via email or snail mail) to either Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

This one's for followers only, as a thank you for spending your time reading my posts. :) To enter, fill out this form before 6pm CST April 28th. Good luck!

April's FEATURED AUTHOR: Tony's books!

April 13, 2011
Today's spotlight is on our Featured Author Tony Bertauski's books, which are YA sci-fi novels about a sixteen-year-old whose life changes irrevocably. The Discovery of Socket Greeny is a 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarter-finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category!

the discovery of socket greeny

The Discovery of Socket Greeny is the first book in a young-adult scifi trilogy that explores love, angst and Zen-like acceptance of true nature in kick ass fashion. Reluctant readers, especially boys, will find this story compelling, enlightening, entertaining, and, yes, even emotional.

Work comes first for 16-year old Socket Greeny's mother ever since his father died. That was 11 years ago. Now, in this tech-driven futuristic society, he's zoned on energy drinks and living in virtual worlds because Mom rarely comes home. He doesn't know what she does for a living. The bills get paid and the refrigerator is full, so why bother with details? His only real world thrill is fighting. He doesn't always win, but that's not the point. Breaking skin is a reality rush.

But a world can change in a single moment.

It's a school day like any other, until Socket starts hearing other people's thoughts. He's hallucinating, maybe brain rot from too much virtualmode. Even when time seems to stop, he ignores it. The mind playing tricks. But when his mom arrives at school, he knows it's for real. She's there to take him to work.

The Paladin Agency.

He discovers an evolved race of humans that have existed for centuries, where thoughts can be heard. And felt. They are people that can manipulate time through the body's metabolism. They protect the rest of humankind and strive to bring them understanding of their full potential. But some Paladins see humankind as inferior. Imperfect. Cancer.

Socket soon finds himself in the center of controversy when he's anointed a Paladin prodigy. He didn't ask for the "blessing" of psychic powers and the ability to timeslice, he just wants to go home and be normal again. But, sometimes, life doesn't give us that privilege, his mom tells him. And when humankind is threatened and the Paladins are forced into the public eye, Socket discovers what his mother means. If he doesn't embrace his true nature, the world will change forever.

Purchase at Amazon: paperback, Kindle

the training of socket greeny

Book 2 in the Socket trilogy. A year has passed since the Paladin Nation was exposed to the public. Their mission is still to protect humanity from whatever may threaten them. Previously, it was the human duplications, but now that they've been extinguished their biggest challenge is dealing with the complications of public image. Socket Greeny, now 17 years old, has been a Paladin cadet for the past year and is nearing the final test. But that's the least of his problems. He's trying to live two lives: one as a superhero while hanging onto his normal life. While fearlessly dealing with his masochistic trainer, he's trying to salvage his deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend back home. But Socket's greatest challenge is to find his true enemy. He discovers that fear has many faces.

Purchase at Amazon: paperback, Kindle

the legend of socket greeny

Book 3 in the Socket trilogy. The Paladin Nation is rebuilding. Socket Greeny is leading them into a new era of compassion and understanding. But when Pike returns, Socket discovers nothing is what he expected, that his life has been planned from the beginning. He is faced with ultimate betrayal. In the end, he won't be asked to save the world. It'll be the entire universe.

Purchase at Amazon: paperback, Kindle

Have you read Tony's books? What did you think?

Book Bloggers & Publishers Online Conference is starting today!

Book Bloggers & Publishers Online Conference

I'd meant to post about the Book Bloggers & Publishers Online Conference earlier, but my computer puked and I lost stuff I was working on (what happened to autosave??), and then I got busy with work. BUT here it is. It starts today at 12pm EST, so c'mon and join in on the action.

Some of today's panels I'm personally interested in are: Available Technology (1pm), Solo vs. Multiple Contributor Sites (7pm), Review Guidelines - for New and Experienced Bloggers (8:30pm). The first because I'm thinking of switching to WordPress (Blogger sometimes gets buggy on me and I don't always have the time to monkey around in code), the second because I've been noodling on adding contributor(s), and the third because well, we can always improve on our reviews, right?

Hopefully I can catch the later ones today! See you there!

Blog Tour: 47. Eternal Rider by Larissa Ione...

April 12, 2011
Today I'm participating in a blog tour for Larissa Ione's Eternal Rider, the first in a new series about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse...

eternal rider blog tour banner

Larissa Ione bio:
I began writing the way so many writers do—the moment I learned to wield a pencil. But even as a child, I didn't write "kid" stories. I preferred something more dramatic. Something that didn't include Dick, Jane, and a dog named Spot. I wanted my characters to be named Dracula and my dogs to have names like White Fang or Cujo. I'll always have my parents to thank for that. They never censored my reading material (though I suspect that if they had truly known what was between the covers of some of the books, they'd have been a little more careful,) so when other girls my age were reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and Judy Blume, I was immersing myself in Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

Later, after I'd joined the Air Force and was in dire need of something to read between shifts at the weather station, I continued to read horror, but I'd branched out into fantasy, and then, finally, romance (though I admit I went kicking and screaming to the latter.)

Turned out that I loved romance! So I started writing it, but again, my style and voice leaned toward the dark, paranormal side. Fortunately for me, paranormal romance, as a sub-genre, was booming. I let my imagination fly, and soon I'd sold a series of dark, sexy paranormal romances to Grand Central Publishing.

I still read a lot of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, and in fact, one of my all time favorite books about writing is On Writing, by my favorite childhood horror author, Stephen King. If you're an author or a reader, I highly recommend this book for an insight into an author's mind—which can sometimes be a very scary place.

Go ahead; Seduce your dark side.

Find Larissa online at her website and on facebook.

eternal rider cover
About the book:
Title: Eternal Rider (Lords of Deliverance #1)
ISBN-13: 9780446574495
ARC: 402 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Hachette Book Group

They are here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

His name is Ares, and the fate of mankind rests on his powerful shoulders. If he falls to the forces of evil, the world falls too. As one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he is far stronger than any mortal, but even he cannot fight his destiny forever. Not when his own brother plots against him.

Yet there is one last hope. Gifted in a way other humans can't--or won't--understand, Cara Thornhart is the key to both this Horseman's safety and his doom. But involving Cara will prove treacherous, even beyond the maddening, dangerous desire that seizes them the moment they meet. For staving off eternal darkness could have a staggering cost: Cara's life.

drey's thoughts:
Larissa Ione is a new-to-me author even though I have her Demonica series on my bookshelf--they were a giveaway win that I haven't gotten around to yet. But I know she has tons of fans, and thought that Eternal Rider was a great way to get introduced to her work.

I don't usually comment on covers, but this one made me think "hmmm, nice bod, but is that supposed to be War?" Ok, so he's Ares, not War (yet), but still. Dude looks a bit young. Great, now I sound like all the fans kvetching about the pick for Dimitri in the VA movie facebook page. Ugh!

Anyway, about the book. I thought it started off a bit slow. 18 pages of prologue, eight more before Cara appears, and we're on page 40 before Ares and Cara share the same breathing space. That's a whole tenth of the book! And then, he ups and leaves! Sheesh... Or, maybe I'm a titch impatient?

Character: Cara is an ok heroine. She's dealing with a lot of things that can't be possible, and her life is forfeit if the bad guys get a hand on her. And while she doesn't come across as whiny or wimpy, she does spend a bit too much time waiting for the good guys to fix the problem. Not that she's without power at all--as a matter of fact she happens to have a healing affinity, which comes in really handy when faced with a hellhound pup in dire straits.

Ares on the other hand is larger-than-life--which he'd have to be, to be one of the Horsemen. He's also the perfect romance novel hero. I mean, how could he not be? He's gorgeous (of course), strong (definitely!), good (except where it concerns hellhounds), and he comes flying to your rescue on a horse. Knight in shining armor, anyone? Of course, he also has his faults. If he didn't, we wouldn't quite enjoy reading along as Cara shows him the error of his ways. *wink*

Pace & Plot: The slow beginning notwithstanding, the rest of Eternal Rider flows quickly. There are the usual trust issues and hang-ups to get over, because love never comes easily in romance novels. Add life-threatening demons and hellhounds to the mix and you have an engaging read where the action doesn't let up until the last word, and the infamous Cerberus himself makes an appearance.

drey's rating: 3/5 Good: A hot and sexy read! I can't wait for Immortal Rider to come out in December!

Have you read Eternal Rider? What did you think? And if you haven't, read on for a chance to win a copy of your very own!

Thanks to the publisher, I have for you up to three copies of Eternal Rider, if you live in the US or Canada (no PO Boxes, please!)... To enter, fill out the form below before 6pm CST April 25. For every 10 entries, I'll draw a winner, up to the three (because there are only three copies). Good luck!

A visit from Ian Barker, author of Fallen Star!

April 11, 2011
Good morning, everyone! Today, I have author Ian Barker stopping by with a guest post on where authors find that sometimes-elusive little thing--ideas! And that's not all... Continue on for an excerpt of his new novel, Fallen Star & a giveaway...

“Where do you get your ideas from?” The seven little words that every writer dreads to hear. Why?

Because it’s a really tough question to answer, at least it is if you worry about your image.

“They just come to me.” You sound smug.

“I don’t know.” You sound like an idiot.

“You have to work at them.” You sound trite.

“Ideas are everywhere.” You sound like a trite, smug idiot.

The truth is a little bit of all of the above and some more besides. You pick up ideas from multiple sources. You might see a news item or overhear a snippet of conversation. You might see an incident in the street and wonder what led up to it. You might watch people on their way to work and start thinking about who they are and where they’re going. You might – whisper it – get ideas from reading other books.

In the case of Fallen Star the initial idea came, believe it or not, from watching TV.

“Are you slumped in front of that box again?”

“Shhh... I’m researching my new book.”

I was watching a bunch of people on a reality show trying to become pop stars and it started me thinking about reversing the situation. What if you took a pop star and made him an ordinary person, an overnight failure?

That was the basis of the novel but once I started to sketch it out I realised it needed more. Stories thrive on conflict but this wasn’t the kind of book to have an arch villain. So what if Karl’s father, Gerald, had never wanted him to be a pop star? Family tension there. And what if he met someone, Lizzie, who didn’t know he was a star and didn’t really care? Love interest too, this could be going somewhere.

So far so good but it really needed more conflict. How about if Gerald and Lizzie are destined not to get on? Why might that be? A newspaper came to the rescue this time with a feature about Northern Ireland. What if she’s Irish and he was in the army and wounded in the Ulster Troubles? Better than that, what if her family was on the other side of the conflict? Suddenly you’ve not only got conflict you have a whole sub-plot going on and your story is developing lots of interesting layers.

It sounds simple when you write it down like that, but it doesn’t all come at once. It’s like doing a jigsaw with half the pieces missing. Occasionally you find a new bit but it seems to be from a completely different puzzle. Sometimes you’re tempted to use a hammer to make it fit!

The idea is to find the right pieces, and put them in order. The trick is to realise that there’s no “right” order. It’s your book and you have to make it work the way you want.

So really it doesn’t matter where you get your ideas from. It’s how you use them that counts.

About Ian Barker:
Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Ian Barker grew up in north-east England and gained a business degree from Teesside Polytechnic in the early ’80s. In the ‘real world’ he is editor of a computer magazine and has spent over twenty five years working in information technology. He currently lives in Bolton, Greater Manchester and doesn’t own a dishwasher.

Find Ian online at his website, blog, and twitter.

fallen star
And now, for the excerpt of Fallen Star (hop back to the top | hop to the giveaway):

By Ian Barker

Published by Rebel e Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-9814256-7-2 ebook
ISBN: 978-0-9869731-8-5 POD

All is ephemeral - fame and the famous as well.
Marcus Aurelius Antonius (121-180AD)

    As Liam turned off the Falls Road the engine stuttered and almost cut out. Deft footwork on throttle and clutch kept it going as Liam’s heart tried to batter its way out through his ribs. That was the trouble with stolen cars; they didn’t come with a guarantee of quality. The red Avenger had seen better days, though not at any time recently. At that moment he’d have given equal odds on whether fuel starvation or a coronary would be first to bring the plan to a halt.
    Up ahead an RUC Land Rover stood at a street corner and Liam muttered a fervent prayer, ‘Please God, don’t let them be doing random checks.’ He kept his eyes fixed in front of him as he drove past, hands slippery on the wheel rim. Only when the Land Rover had been reduced to a grey Dinky toy in the mirror did he risk a glance at the sports bag on the front passenger seat. He changed up into fourth gear with only a slight crunch of protest from the car. Not much further to go.
    ‘Try to start it as near to half-past as you can. We’ll phone a warning five minutes later. That should give them time to clear the street but not enough to find the bomb.’ The words of the brigade quartermaster, before he left the safe house echoed in Liam’s head. A man he knew only by the codename ‘Adrian’. Adrian:
patron saint of soldiers, good choice.
    A young woman with a pushchair stepped out onto the crossing ahead and he braked, stretching out his left hand to prevent the bag from slipping off the seat as the car stopped. The little boy in the chair turned and looked across at Liam, prompting him to think of his own child, Lizzie, four years old and leading her mammy a real dance. She’ll break a few hearts when she’s older, right enough. Liam smiled to himself and the boy waved. For a split second he made eye contact with the mother and wondered if she knew where he was going.
    Shaking his head to dispel the idea, he revved the engine hard to prevent it stalling and drove on. Lizzie deserved better than a life where you had to look over your shoulder all the time just because of which church you attended. If he ever had doubts about resorting to the bomb and the bullet Liam told himself, it was for
her. He didn’t want her growing up in a community where more than half the men under thirty had never worked due to prejudice. He hated that innocent people might get hurt, but wasn’t it worth it for the greater good? Liam knew what bombs could do. The first time he’d been present when they’d ambushed a police patrol he’d been sick. But he’d also known active service friends who’d been shot dead by the British army. It has to be right.
    Once again the car hiccoughed. ‘Come on,’ Liam said under his breath, ‘not much further and you can go out in a blaze of glory.’ The parking space might have been reserved for him, exactly where he wanted it to be. The engine stalled as he turned in, the tick of the indicator becoming loud against the silence.
    Switching off the ignition he put a hand to his chest and felt the hard shape of the crucifix under his shirt. It can’t be a sin, can it, if you really believe in the cause? The thought that someone might be injured – or die – still nagged at him as his mind went back to the mother on the crossing. How could he explain to Lizzie that he’d taken another child’s life? How could he live with himself? A glimpse at his watch told him the time had come. No room for doubts now. Lifting the bag, Liam made his way to the back of the car and opened the boot – the lower edge of the lid frilled with rust. He placed the sports bag inside and wiped his hands on the seat of his jeans before pulling back the bag’s long zip.
    The bomb nestled at the bottom, the timer – a cheap digital alarm clock – attached to the Semtex explosive with black insulating tape. More words from the quartermaster came into Liam’s head. ‘Everything’s pre-set. All you have to do ispress this wee button to start the clock. Then you’ll have fifteen minutes.’  A rain-heavy sky meant the inside of the boot was dark and he glanced around before lifting the device to get a better view. Much less bulky than fertilizer bombs, Semtex was easy to handle. Even so, they hadn’t been using it for long. I hope you knew what you were doing when you set this, Adrian.
    Button pressed as instructed, he placed the bomb back in the bag with exaggerated care. Easy. Liam smiled. I think that calls for a beer. He slammed down the boot lid a fatal fraction too hard.


Twenty-one years later.
    Rocking, as dozens of hands banged on its sides, the van edged forwards through the crowd, like a boat on a gentle swell. The band lay on the floor, soaked in sweat, giggling, alive with adrenalin.
    Karl looked at the others, their eyes wide in the gloom. He had an erection. The buzz of coming off stage after a major gig always gave him one. Sneaking out the back to avoid the fans, smuggled away in a rented Transit, the recipe never failed in terms of sexual excitement.
    After their first big, live performance, Karl, naïve and the youngest member of the group, had asked a roadie why they couldn’t go out the front and get into a car like normal, civilised people. The man, an ageing rocker with a greasy Elvis-style quiff, laughed out loud. He spat contemptuously on the ground before replying.
    ‘Risk that lot? Kid, they’d have you stripped naked in seconds.’ Karl quite liked the sound of that, dozens of frenzied girl fans tearing off his clothes. ‘Then they’d rip your bollocks off for an encore.’ That wasn’t so attractive. Karl had grown quite fond of the contents of his underpants. He made an instinctive and comforting rearrangement of the furniture as the roadie walked away.
    Karl never questioned the wisdom of management transport decisions again. And he always ended each performance with an erection straining at the front of his trousers. Sometimes he’d be aroused even before coming off stage, which made the girls in the front rows go even wilder. The others in the band used to give him stick about it at first; now it was simply part of the normal routine. And, with average luck, it would be put to good use later. He’d heard it said that appearing on stage was better than sex. Karl didn’t agree, though he’d discovered that one almost always led to the other.
    The van broke free of the crowd and began to accelerate away. Graham, the forty-something tour manager, minder and general fixer, sat up front beside the driver, his grey-streaked ponytail hanging down over the back of the seat. He turned his head and called through the metal grille that separated the cab from the load area, ‘Okay, guys?’
    ‘Cool,’ said Karl.
    ‘Mad for it,’ replied the others in sequence.
    Another part of the tour routine. The same response they always gave, which made the band howl with laughter; mainly because Graham never seemed to see the joke. He’d been some sort of failed punk performer back in the ’70s and had clung to the fringes of the music industry ever since. He liked to think he was one of the band and the boys played along, though they always laughed at him behind his back.
    Free from the threat of discovery, Karl sat up and leaned his back against the wheel arch. It wasn’t especially comfortable, but it would only be a short journey. A five minute drive through sodium-lit streets brought them to their hotel. Bland. Corporate. Five-star. They used the rear entrance again, past the kitchens and the laundry bins; past the bored staff sneaking a cigarette; past the smell of cooking, heavy in the night air. Not that it mattered; there were always fans who knew. Friends of friends of chambermaids, bribers of night porters, virtuosos of the pavement stake-out: alerted by text message and prepared to wait in the rain for a glimpse of their idols, or sometimes more.
    They were ushered up in a creaking service lift. As always there were five rooms at their disposal. One each for sleeping – and other horizontal activities – and one kitted out to their rider: sofas, wide-screen TV, well-stocked fridge, a bowl of Smarties with all the green ones picked out. The management referred to this as the chill-out lounge. The band called it the decompression chamber.
    What Karl always needed most after a gig was water. Performing beneath the hot lights, combined with the Ecstasy tabs they dropped before, after – and sometimes during – the show, led to dehydration. First into the decompression chamber, he grabbed a two-litre bottle from the fridge and drank a long draught. Settling onto a sofa, he scooped up a handful of Smarties – he wasn’t quite sure why they insisted on no green ones; like so many of their traditions it had begun as a joke and had stuck – and watched the others go through their familiar routines.
    Ritchie came next. Peeling off his sweat-stained vest as he entered the room he threw it at Karl, who deflected it with a hand and a grin. Two inches of designer underwear showed above Ritchie’s khaki combat pants, a gold stud glittered in each ear and a tattooed dragon coiled over his left shoulder. He pulled a six-pack of lager from the fridge, downed the first can in a couple of gulps, then threw himself onto a sofa, reached for the TV remote, and searched for the soft porn channel.
    Meanwhile, Leon, loose-jointed, hung with gold chains and bracelets, also grabbed himself a bottle of water. He folded his glistening black frame down beside Karl. Tilting back his shaved head he drank a few mouthfuls, then reached a hand under his T-shirt and probed his navel for fluff. The amount of navel fluff Leon generated on tour had become another piece of band folklore. They’d once persuaded him to collect a  week’s output in a plastic bag. The result was quite disappointing, but the legend still lingered on.
    ‘Man, it was hot out there tonight,’ said Leon, his streetwise ‘gangsta’ accent always slipped towards standard-issue Salford when he was alone with the band.
    The final member of the quartet, Zac, kicked the door shut behind him: pallid, spiky-blond, slim, bordering on skinny, invariably twitching with nervous energy. Karl knew his routine too. He would disappear into the bathroom and re-emerge after a few minutes, moist-eyed and wiping his nose. In the early days, Karl – who before joining the band had never come closer to drugs than smoking a cigarette behind the bike sheds at school – hadn’t understood the significance of this, until one day Leon, with his deep, sonorous laugh, had explained. 
    ‘Coke, man. And not the kind that comes in a fancy-shaped bottle neither, know what I mean?’
    ‘Cocaine?’ Karl had replied, open-mouthed.
    ‘What’d you think he was taking? Snuff? His granny’s smelling salts?’
    It explained a lot about Zac’s behaviour, about Zac in general, and Karl learned fast. He’d been something of an innocent when they’d been plucked from the obscurity of a bunch of hopefuls to become The Fallen Boys. Joining the group straight out of school, even bunking off lessons to attend the auditions, he hadn’t been at all wise to the mysteries and practices of the music industry. He smiled about it now. If his mother knew half of what went with being in a band she’d drag him off by the scruff of his neck. Sex, drugs and rock and roll: Karl often felt he was living the cliché.
    Ritchie found the channel he’d been searching for and his free, non-drinking, hand slipped inside his underpants and established a steady rhythm.
    ‘Do you have to do that now?’ said Leon.
    ‘Yeah, you’ll go blind,’ added Karl.
    Ritchie belched then said, ‘In that case, you should have a white stick and a Labrador by now.’
    ‘At least I don’t have to shave my palms every morning,’ Karl replied. ‘Anyway I’ve had more girls than you on this tour.’ He knew the banter, yet even after five years, he still let it get to him in unguarded moments.
    ‘That’s ’cos you’re not picky. You’ll screw the fat ones and the spotty ones.’
    ‘Playing with it again?’ sniffed Zac, emerging from the bathroom. ‘It’s a wonder you have any juice left.’
    ‘Just checking everything’s in working order. You know I always get horned-up after a gig,’ said Ritchie. ‘Anyway, did you see Karl’s boner during the last number? If that security guy at the front of the stage had turned round he could have had his eye out.’ Everyone laughed, Ritchie’s hand stopped moving and he sighed. ‘Plenty more where that came from.’ He cast aside an empty lager can and stood up. ‘I’m off to my room for a shit and a shower.’
    The door of the decompression chamber opened before Ritchie got to it and in marched Patrick. ‘Where you off to?’
    ‘Shower, boss.’
    ‘That can wait a minute.’
    Ritchie grunted and turned back into the room. His hand moved to his crotch and made a strategic  adjustment.
    Patrick’s expensive hairpiece, Rolex watch, Savile Row suit and Italian silk tie complete with a gold pin, couldn’t disguise the fact he was over fifty and several stone overweight. They did indicate he was very rich and relentlessly vulgar. The Fallen Boys may have been responsible for a large chunk of his bank balance, but his taste in bling was all his own.
    ‘Great performance, lads. You had them wetting their knickers right round the stadium, good job.’ He beamed. Patrick beamed a lot. His bridgework had cost more than a small car and he liked to show it off.
    ‘Just wish some of them hadn’t wet their knickers before they threw ’em,’ Karl said. The boys laughed and Patrick flashed the VW Polo beam once more.
    Ritchie tugged at his trousers again, bending his knees like a comedy policeman.
    Patrick caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. ‘Have you been wanking again? You’ll go fucking blind, you will.’
    The other three sniggered at Patrick echoing their earlier conversation.
    ‘Now I just needed to have a touchpoint with you before tomorrow.’ Patrick launched into management mode – he collected meaningless buzzwords like a car windscreen collects insects. ‘Remember you’re off up north. Godforsaken place you monkeys come from, so we want the works, some ace stuff.’ He surveyed Karl and Leon as they sat on the sofa. This meant he had his back to Ritchie, who, with one swift motion, dipped a hand in his pants and carefully deposited some spunk on the back of Patrick’s toupee. ‘Ace stuff,’ Patrick added for effect. Then he turned and walked out, while the band collapsed into hysterical laughter as soon as the door closed behind him.
    ‘You’re mad.’ Leon had recovered enough to speak.
    ‘Any man with that bad a syrup deserves all he gets,’ said Ritchie. ‘Anyhow, you think my stuff’s ace enough for him?’
    ‘It’s expensive enough,’ said Zac. The line wasn’t that funny, but he was high. He clasped his hands together as his entire slender frame shook with laughter.
    The rest of the night passed the way they always did on tour. They drank, talked, ate room service pizzas and watched TV. By one o’clock they’d all dispersed to their own rooms.
    Karl always went to bed naked. It saved time. They’d got the journey north ahead of them tomorrow and he really needed to sleep. He was quite grateful he received only two callers.
    The first couldn’t have been more than fourteen, though she insisted she was older. Karl had learned the hard way to be wary. Ritchie had been accused of making a fifteen-year-old pregnant the year before. Patrick, according to Graham, ended up paying a lot of money to stop the girl going to the press.
    ‘Does your mum know where you are?’ Karl asked.
    ‘She’s waiting downstairs,’ said the girl.
    Karl shook his head; some parents had no shame. Some of the others claimed to have shagged the mothers too. Karl never had, even though being the baby-faced one he brought out the worst maternal instincts in some older women.
    In the end he consented to let the girl give him oral sex. From her performance, this task was one she practised on a regular basis. Afterwards he sent her on her way.
    The second visitor was a few years older, nineteen perhaps, certainly not jailbait. He’d seen her in the wings at the gig. Bribing roadies, with money or sex, was a popular means of getting close to the band. She was a bit on the plump side maybe – Karl recalled Ritchie’s words about not being picky – but she was good in bed. They enjoyed two bouts of energetic, breathless, spring-torturing sex before she slipped away and Karl fell into a deep sleep. If anyone else tapped on the door of his room that night he didn’t hear them.


    An insistent ringing and a loud banging shook Karl awake. It took him a moment to realise the ringing was coming from the bedside phone and someone was thumping hard on his door. Bleary-eyed he fumbled for a bathrobe, ignored the phone, made his way across the room and put an eye to the peephole.

Thanks for stopping by today, y'all!

Interested in Fallen Star? Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository


Enter this giveaway! *grin* Ian and his publisher are giving away one e-copy hardcopy of Fallen Star, and there's no geographic limitation. To enter, fill out the form below before 6pm CST April 24th. Good luck!
--updated per publisher

(hop back to the top | hop to the excerpt)

Giveaway: Eric Van Lustbader's Last Snow!

April 10, 2011
Guess who's a lucky reader today? Why, you, of course!

Eric Van Lustbader's Last Snow is out in paperback, and on the New York Times bestseller list. To celebrate, Authors on the Web has two copies for you, if you live in the US or Canada.

last snow paperback
Title: Last Snow (Jack McClure #2)
Author: Eric Van Lustbader
ISBN-13: 9780765364364
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 2011
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository

When an American senator who is supposed to be in the Ukraine turns up dead on the island of Capri, the President asks McClure to investigate. Jack sets out from Moscow across Eastern Europe, following a perilous trail of diplomats, criminals, and corrupt politicians. His task is complicated by two unlikely, unexpected, and incompatible companions---Annika, a rogue Russian FSB agent, and Alli, the President’s daughter.

Thrust into the midst of a global jigsaw puzzle, Jack’s unique dyslexic mind allows him to put together the pieces that others can’t even see. As he struggles to keep both young women safe and uncover the truth behind the senator’s death, Jack learns just how far up the American and Russian political ladders corruption and treachery have reached.

Read my review of Last Snow

To enter the giveaway, fill out this form before 6pm CST April 23. Good luck!

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