Thursday, July 29, 2010

Black Magic Tour & Contest

Black Magic
Author: Cherry Adair
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star
Available at Amazon

Ever since the death of her parents, Sara Temple has rejected her magical gifts. Then, in a moment of extreme danger, she unknowingly sends out a telepathic cry for help—to the one man she is convinced she never wants to see again.
Jackson Slater thought he was done forever with his ex-fiancée, but when he hears her desperate plea, he teleports halfway around the world to aid her in a situation where magic has gone suddenly, brutally wrong.

Black Magic is a mystery and paranormal romance wrapped into one. The author gives us two main characters who in many way are opposites, but at the same time their chemistry makes them a perfect match. However, they've both been manipulated in their past to keep them apart. This is pretty obvious a little ways into the book, but the mystery remains as to who and why they were kept apart. What can they do together that is such a threat.

I have to address a comment I saw online that said the heroine was whiny and hateful. I think sometimes reader's make opinions without considering the character's point of view. What may be whiny to one person is suffering or heart break to another. I thought both main characters reacted based on what they thought was the truth. Once details are exposed I thought the characters deal with it realistically. I don't give spoilers, but I will say that the experience the heroine went through is one that unless you've went through it personally I don't think it's appropriate to be judging another's reaction.

The book has quite a few details in the prologue, but don't skip it. Knowing the background makes a difference in understanding the characters and the plot. The book moves quickly with action, mystery, sex, and magic. I liked the mystery, the plot twists and the characters in this stand alone novel. Saving the world while in the company of a hunky protective man is always a good time:) I think fans of Lori Devoti, Shannon K. Butcher and Cynthia Eden will enjoy Black Magic.

About the Author: Cherry Adair has garnered numerous awards for her innovative action-adventure novels, which include White Heat, Hot Ice, On Thin Ice, Out of Sight, In Too Deep, Hide and Seek, and Kiss and Tell, as well as her thrilling Edge trilogy: Edge of Danger, Edge of Fear, and Edge of Darkness. A favorite of reviewers and fans alike, she lives in the Pacific Northwest.

The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one paperback copy of Black Magic. Simply leave me a comment answering my question.

Black Magic is in part about second chance love between the characters after a 2 year break up. Do you think there are second chances in real life as well, as far as relationships gone bad?

The contest will end on August 15, 2010, when I randomly choose a winner.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Release Day Review: A Wild Light

A Wild Light
Hunter Kiss, Book 3
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Ace (7/27, 2010)
Available from Amazon

Summary: For too long Maxine Kiss has felt an inexplicable darkness inside her-a force she channels into hunting the demons bent on destroying the human race. But when she finds herself covered in blood and crouched beside her grandfather’s dead body with no memory of what happened, Maxine begins to fear that the darkness has finally consumed her.

I read my first Hunter Kiss novel several months ago, and loved the dark urban fantasy series. I asked for a review copy of A Wild Light from the publisher in time for the release day today. The author has given the readers a third book that answers questions raised in previous books, but has also given us new mysteries and developments. Maxine continues to discover who she is and what her role is in the world. The series is such a fascinating look at the heroine and what sacrifices are necessary and which ones are only perceived that way. We tend to protect ourselves from pain, and those we love, sometimes pushing them away instead of communicating our feelings and fears. Though Maxine is in a battle against evil, she is also a woman. Some needs can't be ignored, and if they are, a person can't maintain a healthy frame of mind. I think this is a constant struggle for Maxine, as she tries to hang on to her humanity and compassion while fighting evil.

A Wild Light is a dark urban fantasy in a gritty setting with murder and mayhem. The battles are often ugly, and people are not what they seem. I'm reminded of epic fantasy books that raise philosophical dilemmas of right and wrong, while giving us some kick ass fight scenes. The Boys, Maxine's demon sidekicks, provide the reader with humor at unexpected times, and offer touching moments as well. They bring to mind that old adage "Don't judge a book by it's cover" as we find out more about their past and why they are with Maxine. The author has a mean wit that keeps the book from becoming too dark as things spiral out of control.

You could read A Wild Light without reading the series, but I think you would miss so much of the characters' growth and the journey they've been on since the first book, that it wouldn't be near as satisfying.

Fans of Vicki Pettersson, Stacia Kane, Dakota Banks and Rob Thurman will love Marjorie M. Liu without a doubt. The series is one to read over and over as new developments come to light, and the characters get under the reader's skin.

Find out more about the author and her books on her website here.

Release Day Review: Waking the Witch

Waking the Witch
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Pub. Date: July 27, 2010
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Hardcover, 320 pages

Summary: The orphaned daughter of a sorcerer and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around. But at 21 she knows she needs to grow up and prove to her guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be a responsible member of their supernatural detective agency. So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town as a favour to one of the agency’s associates. At first glance, the murders look garden-variety human, but on closer inspection signs point to otherworldly stakes.

I requested a review copy of Waking the Witch in time for the release because I had heard good things about it, and was fascinated when I heard it was a crossover to Young Adult. I've read one other Kelley Armstrong book, that I bought and I have her first book, Bitten, on my shelf. I mention this because I felt Waking the Witch was a fine choice for a stand alone novel if you haven't read Ms. Armstrong's other books.

Foremost, I would classify Waking the Witch as a solid mystery novel. We have three murders, numerous suspects, small town cops, one big city detective plus our PI and main character Savannah, trying to sort through all of it for truth. The story is a fast paced, action filled read. I finished it in less than 24 hours because I couldn't put it down.

The main character Savannah is smart, independent, caring and she's a smart ass. Who wasn't at 21 years old? I thought her struggle to do what is right vs. her first instincts fascinating. For the romance fans reading this review, there is some sexual tension, as well as a relationship in Savannah's life that will leave readers wanting to know more.

Is Waking the Witch a "crossover" YA novel? Yes, I think you could say that, keeping in mind that the subject matter is for mature teens and there is some rough language. This would be a great book club choice to be read with young women and older women sharing their thoughts. There are instances of infidelity, betrayal, and choices made for the wrong reasons. There are also examples of unconditional love, friendship, loyalty and belief in ourselves. Yet, these lessons come wrapped in a cool, twist filled plot with magic, mayhem and murder.

I recommend Waking the Witch to fans of Claudia Gray, Kat Richardson, Patricia Briggs and Chloe Neill. Today is the release day in the United States, so pick up a copy online or at your local bookstore.



Monday, July 26, 2010

Kindle Review: Primal Hunger

Primal Hunger
Pendragon Gargoyles #1
Author: Sydney Somers
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 516 KB
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Available from Amazon

Summary: Kennedy Beaumont loves her bartending job, even if her spirited nature sometimes gets her in trouble. Like threatening to hose down one of Pendragon's co-owners. When it comes to Tristan, she could use a good hosing down herself-maybe it'll help her stop casting him as the star of her wickedest dreams. Since he goes out of his way to avoid her, it ought to be easy to put him out of her head-until he reluctantly offers her a ride home.

Primal Hunger is my first Sydney Somers book, and it won't be my last. I loved this fast paced story from the first page as we meet Kennedy, the main character, as she breaks up a fight in the bar she works at as a bartender. She's tough, smart, witty and passionate, but she's oblivious to the supernatural, even after 6 months working in a bar owned by shapeshifters.

The book takes us into this gritty world of shifters, wraiths and Fae as Kennedy discovers they not only exist, but she's right in the middle of the mayhem. It's an action filled urban fantasy with great characters, steamy sex and fascinating mysteries.

Give me a hot shapeshifter with a sarcastic wit and a protective streak and I'm a happy camper. Primal Hunger made me very happy. I loved the characters, and the action kept the book fast paced and interesting right until the end. It's the first book in a series, and the author introduces the world without giving away too much, nor leaving out essential information. Primal Hunger leaves the reader satisfied, yet excited to read the next story in the series.

You can learn more about the series on the author's website here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Masked Blog Tour & Contest

Edited by Lou Anders
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Gallery
Available from Amazon

Summary: Fifteen original stories and novellas from some of today's most exciting voices in comics, science fiction, and fantasy. Each marvelously inventive tale shows us just how far our classic crusaders have evolved—and how the greatest of heroes are, much like ourselves, all too human.

Superman never faltered, he always knew the right thing to do, and in the end he even got the girl. I like Superman. He's a cool guy. I think however, the imperfections of flawed and sometimes tortured heroes are far more interesting. The popularity of movies like Watchmen, Kick Ass and The Losers makes me think there are many of you who feel the same way. Everything is not black and white because life is complex. I was sent a copy of Masked when I asked to participate in the blog tour for it's release this week. I was only familiar with the writing of Marjorie M. Liu, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The stories in Masked are about flawed heroes who want to do what is right, but find it's not as easy as just putting on the suit.

The stories are all worthy of two or three reads, but I wanted to say a few things about my favorites.

Thug by Gail Simone is about a boy with super strength who's brain is not as strong as his body. It's a compelling, sad and dark story that made me think about much more than superheroes.

Avatar is written by Mike Baron, who raises the question: Why aren't there more good guys willing to go out and clean up the scum of an inner city? We learn about one young man that has a plan that he's worked on for a long time. He knows it will work and we follow him during his first night as an avatar come to life.

Head Cases is written by the husband and wife team of Peter David and Kathleen David. I love this story so much. Quirky superheroes are sitting in a pub trying to figure out their place in life and a few other things. I can't give any more details but it's a must read for those who love dark humor and sarcasm.

Lastly, we have Marjorie M. Liu's contribution Call Her Savage about a superhero called back into duty, faced with those from her past who don't understand why she left in the first place. It's a dark, complex story such as we've come to expect from Ms. Liu. She, as usual, tells a heart wrenching tale through the heroine's eyes. Though it's a short story she manages to get in a couple of twists before the end, which is one thing I always love about Ms. Liu.

Masked is an awesome anthology and fans of movies like Watchmen, Hancock and other darker tales will read it again and again.

It's very cool that I am allowed to give away one copy of Masked. To enter, simply answer my question, and leave an email IF you don't have one attached to a google account.

How do you like your superheroes? Perfect like Superman, or flawed like Wolverine or Hancock? Why?

The contest will run through August 1, 2010 and it's open to the U.S. only.


Tour & Contest: Captured by Moonlight

Captured by Moonlight
Author: Nancy Gideon
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Available from Amazon

Summary: A mysterious death begins a dangerous chain of events, forcing choices that mean no turning back as Max's past catches up to him. Driven by instincts he can't control, Max fights the need to claim his human mate. How can he protect her when she's not safe with him? She's strong enough to keep his secrets, but can she survive the test of his love?

Captured by Moonlight is the third in a new paranormal romance series by Nancy Gideon. The first two were released earlier in the summer but I'm jumping on her shifter bandwagon for the first time. Sometimes a series, or a stand alone book, will build up to a man and woman becoming a couple. The chase is the basis for the book, and afterwards we only get tidbits of the relationship. No so with Charlotte and Max, the main characters in Captured by Moonlight. They are both independent, stubborn and they share tortured pasts that almost killed them. Charlotte and Max need each other, but it's not an easy road, especially since she is a police detective and he runs a clan of shape shifters. Add in a couple of mysterious deaths and an alpha who can't control his bonding instincts and you've got trouble.

I loved Captured by Moonlight. At first glance you might think it's a steamy paranormal romance, and well, you'd be right. However, the story has an edge to it, a darkness that takes it beyond a romance and brings into play suspense and mystery. To keep it from getting too dark the author has given us characters who banter with the best of them. Sarcastic and witty banter between the two main characters, and many of the side characters, added a cool element to the book. It's a fast paced read that had me staying up until 3:30 a.m. because I had lost track of time while reading.

The author has announced on her website that there will be three more books in the series. I'm so glad her publishers knows a good thing when they see it because the books can only get better with these fascinating and passionate characters.

You can learn more about the author and her books on her website here:

The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one paperback copy of Captured by Moonlight. This is a good one folks, so don't miss out! Simply answer my questions below to enter the giveaway.

Do you like your mysteries and thrillers with a little bit of romance? Or do you like to keep them separate?

The contest will end August 1st, 2010.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Viking Goodness of All Fired Up

All Fired Up
Author: Kristen Painter
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1011 KB
Print Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
This book is available on Amazon.

Summary: Alrik Gunn knows from bitter experience that change isn’t always for the better. From the woman who annihilated his Viking clan to the goddess who tricked him into centuries of slavery, betrayal has dogged his existence. The Goddess of Love is going to let him avenge his family, but for a price. As a Phoenix—a merchant of change—he must grant a human woman three chances to change her life.

When former Irish dancer Calleigh McCarthy tosses a carved-bird statue that belonged to her ex into a roaring bonfire, she unwittingly summons an honest-to-god Phoenix. A sexy, irresistible Viking who offers her an unbelievable bonus—three get-out-of-her-crappy-life-free cards. She’ll take it, even if it means guarding her cautious heart against the dark pain behind Alrik’s eyes.

I bought All Fired Up on a whim because, as many of you know, I've only been reading romance for a couple of years and I have much catching up to do. I'm not a traditional romance reader, having spent years reading Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. I read the teaser for All Fired Up and decided I needed to read it on my Kindle. It has all the elements I enjoy: magic, humor, a hot Viking warrior and romance. I found myself laughing out loud throughout the entire book, but by the end the author had me in tears.

I loved the mix of characters in All Fired Up. Calleigh's family is Irish, Alrik is a Viking who was living in Ireland, and later we meet other Phoenix males including a Roman, and the god and goddess who control them. The author has a charming style of writing that makes the reader feel as if they know the characters or want to know more about them. We WANT them to be happy and we care about them.

All Fired Up is a fast paced, fun and charming paranormal romance. I have to add that you cannot beat the price on the Kindle edition for a full sized novel. It was well worth the money (under $4.00), and I will be reading Ms. Painters other novels, plus looking for a second Phoenix novel (crossing my fingers and toes that she writes another one!).



Friday, July 16, 2010

Kindle Review: To Hunt a Sainte

To Hunt a Sainte
Westlake Enterprises, #1
Author: Marie Harte
Publisher: Samhain
File Size: 702 KB
Available for Kindle

Summary: Telekinetic Alexandra Sainte is through serving time behind a desk at Buchanan Investigations. She’s more than ready to prove she’s capable of fieldwork, if only her uncle will give her the chance. Tired of waiting, she turns a sudden opportunity into something more.

There’s a reason Hunter Greye can’t take his gaze off the sticky-fingered woman he catches ruining his investigation. She fights like a warrior. She bears a striking resemblance to a string of kidnapping victims. And she stirs a wildness within him he thought he’d learned to control a long time ago. She’s a dangerous distraction he can’t afford.

To Hunt a Sainte was a spur of the moment purchase for my Kindle just before my Florida vacation. It's the first Marie Harte book I've read, and I'm sure it won't be my last. The heroine is spunky, passionate, smart and can kick butt with the best of them. Hunter, the other main character, is brooding, mysterious, and protective. Sure, he's stubborn and needs his ass kicked by a woman, but I loved his character.

To Hunt a Sainte is fast paced mystery and a thriller that I read nonstop. It's the first in the series, and I SO wish I could read the second one already. The side characters are just begging for their story to be told, and I can't wait to hear more about Hunter and Alex.

I read this as an e-book on my Kindle, and it's a full length novel. You can read an excerpt at Samhain here, but, so you know, it's cheaper to buy on Amazon for the Kindle version.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Zombie Blog Tour & Contest

Beyond Exile
Day by Day Armageddon
Book Two
Author: J. L. Bourne
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books

Summary: The first book of Day by Day Armageddon took us deep into the mind of a military officer and survivor as he made a New Year's resolution to start keeping a journal. The man kept his resolution and brought to us the fall of humanity, day by day. We see the man transition from the life that you and I live to the prospect of fighting for his very survival against the overwhelming hordes of the dead. We see him bleed, we see him make mistakes, we witness him evolve. The highly anticipated sequel to the bestselling underground cult classic, Day by Day Armageddon begins where the first novel left off.

Armies of undead have risen up across the U.S. and around the globe;there is no safe haven from the diseased corpses hungering for human flesh. But in the heat of a Texas wasteland, a small band of survivors attempt to counter the millions closing in around them.

Zombies are hip. They are the new black. They make people take up shovels and band together to trade witty banter. But wait, what if a disease did spread that turned our citizens into zombies? Would we lay down and die? Or worse yet, turn into the undead? Or would we perhaps join with someone who had military experience? Someone who might give us a chance to survive? Beyond Exile, the second book in the Day By Day Armageddon series, addresses these questions as we read the journal of an anonymous narrator, who is a military officer.

The author has written a dramatic telling of a world gone wrong. He doesn't use gore just for the sake of gore. The writing is detailed, as I imagine a journal of an officer would be, but there is also an emotional element that comes across. Beyond Exile is a must read for Zombie fans, but I also think fans of authors such as Tom Clancy would enjoy it.

I also have to give it to the author for having the courage to enter the world of zombie fans, who expect certain "rules" to be followed when it comes to zombie lore. They can discuss for hours the correct and incorrect way to kill a zombie. Not me. I love a good scare and a good apocalyptic story as much as the next human, but I'm not a purist in any sense of the word. Beyond Exile exceeded my need to be horrified by realistic zombie action, written well and at a fast paced clip. Good job, Mr. Bourne.

The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one copy of Beyond Exile to a U.S. reader. The contest will end August 1st, 2010 when I will use the handy random number generator to pick a winner. Simply leave a comment answering my question below. If you don't have an email associated with a google account on your profile please leave it in the comments.

Do you like your zombie lore with a bit of black humor, or do you like to be frightened with realistic zombie tales?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Southern Arcana From Moira Rogers

Crux, Crossroads
Southern Arcana, 1 & 2
Author: Moira Rogers
Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Available on Amazon

SUMMARY: The Southern Arcana books are novel-length paranormal romance set in a contemporary world where shapeshifters, psychics and spell casters of all sorts live secret lives beneath the radar. The paranormal world of Southern Arcana is not always a pretty place, so the books contain their share of violence and death, but if you make it through to the other side you'll always find a happy ending.

After reading all four Red Rock Pass books and the companion short stories on the authors' website, I was itching for more Moira Rogers. It's hard to put into words but the talented author duo that writes under the name Moira Rogers has a style that is laid back, sexy and witty. I decided to try the Southern Arcana series and was immediately sucked in by their style again. This time the series is set in New Orleans. The stories combine urban fantasy with mystery and sizzling paranormal romance. The first book, Crux, introduces the characters through the eyes of a young woman on the run from her past. She doesn't believe in magic, shifters or the supernatural, but is forced to confront her beliefs as her world is threatened. I loved all of the characters throughout the book, and had a hard time putting it down because of the suspense and action. Mackenzie Brooks is a great character because she's on her own, living a day at a time, and has to learn to trust those who want to help her. She grows into a tough, compassionate person during the story. I could really relate to her trust issues after experiencing a bad relationship.

I bought the second book in the series, Crossroads, before I had even finished the first book. I was not disappointed. The series continues with two characters we meet in the first book, Nicole and Derek, as the main focus, but the entire "gang" from Crux is present and accounted for in the story. It's a completely different struggle for these two people from different backgrounds to admit they care for each other. Once they do, things really become complex and dangerous.

The authors NEVER fail to make my stomach flutter and my eyes water at the end of each book. Don't get me wrong. They make the reader work for that ending with heart pounding action, and moments that you are SURE things can't possibly turn around. I look forward to each of their books because I know it will be a fascinating, sexy, crazy read that will make me laugh and cry by the time I'm finished.

The third book in the Southern Arcana series is Deadlock, which will be released as an e-book in January 2011. This one will feature Alec Jacobson who "the black sheep alpha who protects the supernatural residents of New Orleans from wolf politics." You can get to know Alec in the first two books, and let me just say that he is brooding, protective, loyal and sexy. I can't wait for Deadlock to be released.

You can find out more about Moira Rogers, and their paranormal books on their website here.



Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blood Law: Mississippi Vamps & Good Ole Boys

Blood Law
Alexandra Sabian series
Author: Jeannie Holmes
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Dell
Available from Amazon

Summary: Alexandra Sabian moves to the sleepy hamlet of Jefferson, Mississippi—population 6,000, nearly one-half vampires—to escape the demons lurking in her past. As an Enforcer for the Federal Bureau of Preternatural Investigation (FBPI), Alex must maintain the uneasy peace between her kind and humans, including Jefferson’s bigoted sheriff, who’d be happy to see all vampires banished from town. Then really dead vamps start turning up—beheaded, crucified, and defanged—killed in the same gruesome manner that Alex’s father was murdered decades ago. Things get even more complicated when the FBPI sends in some unnervingly sexy backup: Alex’s one-time mentor, lover, and fiancé, Varik Baudelaire.

Growing up I loved mysteries. As an adult, my dad introduced me to John Stanford, and Patricia Cornwell, then I discovered urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Tuesday night I bought Jeannie Holmes book, Blood Law, for my Kindle, and was in heaven. Her first book in the Alexandra Sabian series is all the things I loved in a gritty mystery combined with the elements of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. It's a fast paced thriller with Alex and her co-workers trying to catch a serial killer while she battles with emotional demons from her past.

I loved Alex as a main character. She is strong, loyal, passionate and smart. Varik, her former fiance, is sarcastic, sexy, tough and protective. Combine the two of them and it's a roller coaster of emotion and sexual tension. However, the author doesn't let that aspect of the story overwhelm the problem at hand, but rather works their attraction and past into the plot as it unfolds. The cast of characters from the citizens of Alex's town to the FBPI agents are quirky and complex.

Jeannie Holmes has introduced us to a gritty and sexy world where the mystery of the day is not overshadowed by characters who think of nothing but sex and the vampires are complex, intelligent and leave us wanting to know more. I can't wait to read the next book in the series to see what Ms. Holmes has come up with next. Blood Law is a fantastic debut novel, and a must read.

Learn more about the book and author on her website here.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interview with Author Dakota Banks

Dakota Banks is the author of the Mortal Path book series. She lives in the St. Louis area and is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and Mystery Writers of America. Dark Time, Book One in her Mortal Path series, was released in the summer of 2009, and the second book Sacrifice will be released in August 2010.

I'm so excited that Dakota allowed me to ask her a few questions, even though she was getting ready to go out of town. I truly appreciate her graciousness.

Dakota, I loved Dark Time, and really appreciated the flashback scenes to give the reader background on Maliha's friends. I can't imagine the research you must have had to do for the book. Is there a reason you chose those time periods and locations?

I had the entire globe and the roughly 300 years of Maliha's life so far to choose locations and time periods. It's an awesome amount of raw material, so I was free to choose some places and times that weren't too familiar to urban fantasy readers. There's also Maliha's home base in current day Chicago that lets the reader feel grounded while Maliha hops around the world and through the centuries. I tried to select times when something interesting was happening, locations that had a drama or challenge of their own, and if possible, weave in real (or thinly-disguised) historical characters and events. For the flashbacks in particular, I research each of these events thoroughly, and I find it great fun! I think I must be a closet historian.

Since each book has an embedded thriller story, there may be scientific research involved--and weapons and martial arts moves.... I have a set of throwing stars I've practiced with, making a tree in my backyard very anxious every time I come near. They're heavier than I thought they'd be, and very sharp. You can't just put a few in your pocket and set off. They'd tear right through light fabric, slide out, and scratch your leg. (Don't ask me how I came upon this knowledge.) A leather pack is needed, and it takes a lot more skill than I have to stick your hand in there and come out without a bloody reminder that you're not a ninja. Maliha, of course, can do this easily. To answer the question that is probably next in your mind: No, I didn't practice with a whipsword. I'm not a total nut, just a partial one. I did watch videos of whipswords being used by two men who must have had death wishes. The research is time-consuming, meaning I can't race through writing Mortal Path books, but I hope all the authenticity makes for a better reading experience.

The friendships in the book really stood out to me. They are each very different, yet there is a love and loyalty between Maliha and her friends, that is deep and constant. What made you give her these type of friendships rather than typical "buddy" type relationships?

In her youth, Maliha had a close friend who was like a sister to her. Once Maliha became a demon's assassin, her feelings were locked away in her heart. She had no interest in friendship or love; for all she knew, anyone she befriended could become an assassination target. She had casual relationships with men, but fled if a relationship with expectations began to develop. She was wealthy and independent, and lived, traveled, and worked alone. When she denounced that life, it took years for her to open up to the possibility of close friendship. Instead of thinking about targets, she could think about the real human lives she was saving. When she risked her life to save a life, in a small number of cases a special bond developed. She ended up with a small group of people who knew her secrets, knew her goals, knew her background as a stone-cold killer, and loved her anyway for what she is now. She cares about them whether she's working on a case or not, and their private lives have become mingled, as happens with all deep friendships. Maliha can express a full range of emotions with these friends because they basically mirror parts of herself. After friendship, then comes romantic love...

Buddy relationships are shallow, I think, and are built quickly for the purpose of solving a problem within a story. Generally speaking, there is no extensive background given on the buddies--the reader just pops into their lives at a certain point, has no real satisfaction from their relationship, and pops out at the end of the book. For a writer, this is a hollow experience, and for the reader, I think it smacks of superficiality. It would be hard to sustain a series with buddy characters. What is it that would hold them together from story to story? In a book, they spend a few hours a day for a week or two dealing with some problem. Outside work, they don't exist. This approach is okay in a straight comedy approach, because the reader doesn't care about character development and just wants to laugh. Maybe you noticed I don't think much of buddy relationships, unless written for fun!!

I just turned 50 this month, and when I visited your website I noticed that you appear closer to my age than many of the young writers I've interviewed. Do you feel your writing has gotten better as you've gotten older? I've noticed that fans of paranormal, horror and urban fantasy tend to be of all ages. Have you found that too when you've met fans?

Aagh! You sneaked a peek at the candles on my birthday cake! Seriously, I think the depth of emotion my characters feel and the range of emotions in the book (sadness, anger, poignancy, humor, etc.) are far better than my earlier writing. I also think my pacing and suspense have improved. It just seems like my experience soaks its way into every scene. In my case, I think there are scenes in the Mortal Path books that I couldn't have written, or at least written well, as a younger author. That's the way it is for me, anyway--it took some time for my skills and life experiences to grow and mesh. I guess I'm ripe now. That's not meant to disparage younger authors. We all ripen at our own speed! And thank goodness for that, because it would be boring to have the perspective in books all come from writers the same age.

As far as readers are concerned, I've definitely noticed that urban fantasy, horror, and other paranormal books appeal to a wide range of ages. When I meet fans in person at conferences, they tend to be in the 25-40 year old age bracket. A key factor there is having enough money and time available to travel to conferences.

Younger people don't seem to come to conferences as often, and aside from the money issue, I'm not sure why that is. I do know I have plenty of younger fans though, because I receive many emails from them. In fact, some of them I consider too young to be reading Mortal Path books, which aren't exactly written for the 12-year-old reading audience. I keep saying this mantra: "Kids vary in maturity level. Kids vary ..." Older people come to library festivals in droves and they're some of the most intense fans of this genre I've met. Readers--I love 'em all, except maybe for the guy whose underwear I signed in an elevator.

Don't miss out on Dark Time, which you can pick up now, and the second book in the series, Sacrifice, when it's available August 31, 2010. Both are available on Amazon.

You can learn more about Dakota and her books on her website here and at the new Supernatural Underground blog, which is a combined effort of some of my favorite authors. Visit Supernatural Underground here.


Dark Time: UF With a Twist, or Two or Three

Dark Time:
Mortal Path Book 1
Author: Dakota Banks
Publisher: HarperCollins/Eos
Paperback, 320 pages

Summary: In the 17th century, a woman is ripped from her husband's arms, thrown in jail, and then set afire as a witch. Saved from the flames by an ancient Sumerian demon, she becomes the Black Ghost, his Ageless assassin gifted with otherworldly skills and superbly trained in martial arts.Centuries pass before Maliha Crayne finds a way out of the life she hates. If she achieves a balance between lives taken and lives saved, she'll break the demon's hold on her. If she fails, she will suffer the demon's torment ... forever.

I bought my copy of Dark Time a few months ago because I loved the cover. Yes, I'll admit that I do that from time to time. I didn't know much about the author when I bought it, but later kept hearing good things. I plucked it out of my huge TBR pile, and ended up loving the story as much as the cover.

It's hard for me to put Dark Time into a specific genre because it has elements of dark urban fantasy, horror, crime thriller and an international intrique element. Don't get me wrong, these elements all work for this book. It's fast paced, yet detailed and complex at times. The back cover talks about Maliha Crayne, the heroine, but it takes a bit before she becomes that woman who kicks ass and stops evil. Let's face it, not many people are born to fight evil. I appreciate that Maliha has a past that started out like most women, though in a much earlier time. She is forced into a situation by circumstances that easily could have turned her evil to the core, but instead she struggles to hold on to what she believes is right.

Ms. Banks has a unique style. She reminds me of a paranormal Tom Clancy. I know you are saying "What, are you crazy?". Let me explain. My dad passed along every Tom Clancy book ever written to me through the years. Those early books with Mr. Clark, a mysterious hardass with mad skills, were great. Dakota Banks' characters remind me of those in many ways, as do her great action scenes and her attention to detail. I hope she takes this as a compliment because I certainly mean it as one.

For those of you curious, yes, there is a little romance in Dark Time, but not in the traditional sense of most paranormal romance books. Maliha's life is a little too complex for traditional relationships, but that doesn't mean she doesn't crave love and passion. She also allows herself some friendships, which end up adding a wonderful element to the book.

I loved Dark Time, the first in the series, and can't wait until August when the second one is released. If you like Marjorie M. Liu I think you will really enjoy the Mortal Path series.

Dakota's books are available at Indie Bound, Powell's Books and Amazon.



Oh My, We Have a Winner!

Using the handy dandy Random Number Generator I chose a winner for Radiant Shadows, a Wicked Lovely Book by Melissa Marr. The winner is:


I have emailed her, and she has a week to respond with her information. Thanks for entering everyone!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kindle Reading on the Road

On the way to Florida and on the way home I read my Kindle between interesting sights. I'm a fast reader and got through some great books. These are the titles I read in June:

Crux: Southern Arcana, Book 1
Crossroads: Southern Arcana 2
Both by Moira Rogers

Out of Darkness ARC
by Anne Patrick

To Hunt a Sainte
Westlake Enterprises
by Marie Harte

Soul Catcher
by Leigh Bridger

No Longer Mine
By Shiloh Walker

Wolf Flight
by Vivan Arend

The Wicked Kiss
by Trina M. Lee

I think they are all worth reviewing individually, so I will make my goal to review all of them by the end of July. The cool thing about each of these is they are great summer reads at good prices. I loved reading my Kindle in the car, but I also read it at night, and I took it to the beach too. I still love reading physical books, and at home I tend to read those more, but for travel the Kindle is perfect.