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A Song After Dark by Grant Palmquist

June 5, 2012

Norman thought he’d hit the jackpot when he met Zach, trading his boring straight A lifestyle for one filled with parties, drugs and more girls than he ever imagined he’d meet in his lifetime.

But there’s something dangerous about Zach, something not quite right. For Zach has a dark secret, that once revealed will drag his newfound sidekick into a nightmare world mired in death and destruction.

Be wary of strangers and careful what you wish for.

Sometimes A Song After Dark is one you don’t want to hear.

 

Full Disclosure: Thank you to Grant Palmquist for sending a review copy.

I’m letting you guys know up front, A Song After Dark by Grant Palmquist is (say it with me )not for the faint of heart…or stomach. There are some truly disturbing scenes that even I flinched at. But hey, that’s the goal when you pick up a horror novel, isn’t it?

The story follows Norman and Zack, two high school teens who come from completely different worlds. Zack’s popular by default for being a renegade. Meanwhile Norman leads a sheltered life under the iron thumb of his parents. When he’s not studying, he should be dreaming about studying, and very little else. Seems unlikely that they’d strike up a friendship, but Zack’s all about doing the unpredictable. It’s kinda his thing, being a serial killer and all.

The plot, while pretty straightforward, has a great pace. The unraveling of the two boy’s friendship and Zack’s sanity was like a train wreck, I couldn’t bring myself to look away. While I don’t think this book is suitable for kids, it does have a running theme about conformity vs. being your own person. In the case of Zack…it’s not really a good thing. He came across as “a very special snowflake”, but I do believe that was rather the point. Norman, who doesn’t have the luxury of conformity, being that he believes he’ll live and die a geek from now till graduation, comes from his friendship with Zack, not unscathed, but also his own person.  And that’s about as far as I can say without spoiling anyone.

Recommended for all Horror lovers. Animal lovers need not purchase.

You can purchase A Song After Dark at Amazon and Smashwords. I am currently unaware of any other venues but Mr. Palmquist? Feel free to kick an e-mail my way if I’ve missed one.

MERGE BlogTour: Interview with Kit Iwasaki + Giveaway!

June 4, 2012

Kit Iwasaki was midway through premed when she realized she loved the heart, but hated blood. It took her a few more years to figure out what to do with her freewheeling life, most of which is not fit to print in a bio. She decided to get back to what she was always doing anyway, and had been as long as she could remember: telling stories. Now she furiously scribbles out books for the Vampire General series, as well as other projects that will jump out at you when you least expect it.

So without further adieu, let us welcome the lovely Kit Iwasaki!

1. Hi Kit! I have to say I loved your stories for MERGE, 5 Days at a Time and Gentle Cruelty. Recently on Attack of the Book, MCM accused you of playing a major role in the conception of the series itself. What’s your side of that story? How’d you go from talking ooze to the inter-connecting multi-author series that is MERGE? And how did that lend itself to Beth and Sam’s story?

I was an innocent victim his plot. He came to me with this crazy idea about ooze, but it fit neatly into my idea about a society dealing with transhumanism, on a personal level. Most stories focus on the “ooh ahh” of werewolves, but not many look at on a macro level that doesn’t involve epic wars or secret societies. I wanted to write about a woman who was dealing with the gut-wrenching realities of being the caretaker for a transhuman who also happened to be suffering from Alzheimer’s. The fact that three other authors would be filling out the world and laying the groundwork for a kick-ass finale, that was just icing on the cake!

2.  You describe your brand as “Medical Thrillers with a Paranormal twist!” I like the blend of gritty realism this lends to your MERGE stories. I imagine your background in Premed  largely influences your stories, especially your Vampire General Series? Where did you get the idea for it?

From my brain! Or was it from the recycling bin?

In all seriousness, I have a friend who’s really allergic to garlic, so we make fun of him by calling him a vampire. Then my wannabe-doctor side fired up one day and got me wondering: what if vampirism was just a medical condition? If there was a medical reason behind the garlic allergy, blood lust, sensitivity to sunlight, etc? How would you treat such a condition? How would you cure it?

Once my mind wandered down that path, it never came back. The possibilities are endless.

3.   Awesome! What’s your process like? Are you a panster, plotter or a bit of both?

A plotter, through and through. I have all 9 books in the Vampire General series in various stages of planning, and I already know how the series will end. I plan everything, even down to individual books. First I write a general outline, then I break it into chapters, then I flesh out where needed and make sure all the different threads weave together well—you need to make sure to mix up the plot threads well, to give them equal weight and to keep readers reading! Only when all the chapter outline are in place do I start writing.

It takes time to outline things, sure, but then when it comes to actually writing a novel, as soon as the outline is in place everything just flows.

4.  Who inspires you? Be they author, musician, artist or director!

It’ll be tacky to say, but Joss Whedon is a god to me. He takes truly epic situations, and boils them down to complex characters and quiet moments of dialogue. I watch and read everything he does, just so I can absorb as much witty banter as I can, so maybe my own characters are a bit more alive when I write them.

5.  I don’t think that’s tack at all. I love most of Whedon’s work! Do you intend to be faithful to your brand or are there stories in other genres you’d be tempted to write?

I like to think that I’ve found my niche with the paranormal/medical crossover… and it certainly helps that it’s just how I think. When I sit down to write, I start off thinking about love stories and betrayals and dramas, and inevitably my mind turns to medical dramas because they are amongst the most powerful.

But who knows? I never say no to anything.

6.  Do you have any other creative endeavors outside of writing?

Everyone is creative, whether they realize it or not. Those who know me say I’m very creative when avoiding work. I also color-code my wardrobe, does that count?

7.  Hah! My sister would say so. Do you have favorite words? Most of mine tend to be censored on Television and the rest make me question my sanity.

Apricot. Hate the fruit, love the word. Pneumothorax, too. But never together.

8. If you were to write an autobiography what would the title be?

“Epidural, Please.” And I don’t have kids. It just makes me sound badass.

9. Oooh, I like that, nice! What would your ultimate writing environment be like? Mine would include Cat-hair free furniture, a decent laptop that doesn’t lag (ever), a view of the ocean, art supplies, a bottle of Sprite, and a chocolate fountain or two. Just sayin’…

As silly as it sounds, just a laptop and a comfy chair, some soft music playing in the background, and gentle lighting. Oh, and seventeen tanks of coffee, because the rest of that environment would put me to sleep SO FAST it’s not funny.

10. What’s next on the Agenda? Can you tell us a little about the next Vampire General book?

Coming up next is Slash and Burn, the second in the Vampire General series. It picks up right where book one left off, which ended on a killer cliff-hanger.

Slash and Burn covers main character Aline Harman’s second shift at the transhuman hospital Grace General. With an elf in critical care and a werewolf to control, Aline has her hands full. But she’s also in even MORE danger from her colleagues, who are on the verge of discovering her secret….

How long can she handle the pressure until the cracks start to appear?

You can purchase two of Kit Iwasaki’s MERGE titles 5 Days At A Time and Gentle Cruelty, as well as the first book in the Vampire General series, Intern With The Vampire, at 1889 Labs.

Then come back here and tell me how you would spend your after life in the event you’d been unfortunate enough to contract Vampirism. Or just toss your name into the hat. I’ll draw one name and the winner will be awarded any 1889 Labs book of their choosing. Giveaway ends Friday, June 20th, 2012 at Midnight EST.

Don’t forget there are other prizes to be won (Recap below!) by commenting here and on all the other wonderful sponsor’s posts, subscribing to the MERGE mailinglist, pointing fellow book junkies towards 1889 Labs’ facebook page, and tweeting with the hashtag #merge1889.

First place: brand new iPad + ecopy of entire MERGE anthology
Second place: ecopy of entire MERGE anthology + $10 amazon/iTunes voucher
Third place: ecopy of 4 MERGE stories of choice  + $10 amazon/iTunes voucher

Winners will be announced on June 20th, which is 1889 Labs’ 6th birthday. On the same day we will release the full MERGE anthology.

Readers can enter to win by:
- Subscribing to merge mailing list =5 entries
- Like 1889 labs Facebook page = 2 entries
- Tweet using #merge1889 = 1 entry, once per day
- Comment on a blog tour stop = 1 entry.  – The MERGE Press Release

MERGE Blogtour: Long Way Down by Yvonne Reid Review and Giveaway!

May 29, 2012

Long Way Down by Yvonne Reid

Set in a world reeling from the discovery of transhumans, MERGE is a series of thirteen short stories that charts the loves, the betrayals, and the struggle for survival in a world where humans and transhumans are uneasy neighbours. Tensions are high, riots are brewing. The human race is about to come undone.

Long Way Down is one of thirteen short stories in the MERGE series. This is the second story released by 1889 Labs, and let me tell you, MERGE is off to a cracking start! While I’m deeply curious and excited to see how all these stories will hold up together, I never once felt I was missing something while reading Long Way Down. Not having the advantage of reading the rest of the series before hand, I truly feel this story is strong enough to stand on it’s own. I’m only sad there isn’t more.

Though I’ll never turn down a longer read, one of the things I’ve come to love about short stories is the economical use of language. Every word must count and Ms. Reid does a fantastic job of telling an understated and intriguing story about a “free agent” tasked with tracking down and bringing in a Transhuman. As the story is only 11 pages, it would be very difficult to give away any more of the plot without dipping into massive spoiler territory. Sufficed to say, if you’ve read other 1889 Labs books and loved them? I have no doubt that you will enjoy this one as much as I did.I really hope 1889 Labs decides to continue this series or do spin off novels with continuing threads because I would love to read more about Leo Harrison, the “free agent”, and his team.

But you guys don’t have to take my word for it. Head on over to 1889 Labs and get a copy of Yvonne Reid‘s Long Way Down for yourself.

Then come back here and tell me what sort of Transhuman abilities you’d want or just leave a comment to let me know you want your name tossed into the hat. I’ll draw one name and the winner will be awarded any 1889 Labs book they want. Contest ends Friday, June 20th, 2012 at Midnight EST.

Don’t forget there are other prizes to be won (Recap below!) by commenting here and on all the other wonderful sponsor’s posts, subscribing to the MERGE mailinglist, pointing fellow book junkies towards 1889 Labs’ facebook page, and tweeting with the hashtag #merge1889.

First place: brand new iPad + ecopy of entire MERGE anthology
Second place: ecopy of entire MERGE anthology + $10 amazon/iTunes voucher
Third place: ecopy of 4 MERGE stories of choice  + $10 amazon/iTunes voucher

Winners will be announced on June 20th, which is 1889 Labs’ 6th birthday. On the same day we will release the full MERGE anthology.

Readers can enter to win by:
- Subscribing to merge mailing list =5 entries
- Like 1889 labs Facebook page = 2 entries
- Tweet using #merge1889 = 1 entry, once per day
- Comment on a blog tour stop = 1 entry.  – The MERGE Press Release

Proud Sponsor of the MERGE Blog Tour

May 22, 2012

1889 Labs MERGE Blog Tour

For some reason, 1889 Labs like me, they really like me.

And because I like them so much, I’m going to be saddling up to Sponsor another awesome blog tour!

1889 Labs Makes Reading Rewarding with New Paranormal Thriller Series MERGE.

From May 28th to June 18th, MERGE will give readers the chance to win an iPad. Ontario, Canada – Independent publisher 1889 Labs has announced the release of an innovative paranormal thriller series entitled MERGE. The thirteen-story series, written collaboratively by four authors, will launch on May 28th and run for four weeks alongside a blog tour, giving participating readers the chance to win a brand new iPad, Amazon and iTunes vouchers, and a host of other prizes.

Set in a world reeling from the discovery of transhumans, MERGE is a series of thirteen short stories that charts the loves, the betrayals, and the struggle for survival in a world where humans and transhumans are uneasy neighbours. Tensions are high, riots are brewing. The human race is about to come undone. As a collaborative effort from authors AM Harte (Hungry For You), Kit Iwasaki (Intern With A Vampire), MCM (The Vector), and Yvonne Reid (Ascension), the thirteen stories will be released over the course of four weeks. 1889
Labs will publish a total of four stories every week, one from each participating author. The final piece of the series will be released on June 18th, culminating in the inevitable intersection of each author’s unique storyline.

- 1889 LABS’ MERGE Press Release

On May 29th, 2012, I’ll be reviewing Yvonne Reid’s short story Long Way Down. Then, check back on June 4th for my Interview with Kit Iwasaki! Let’s hope I don’t scare them off.

HOW TO WIN THE GOODIES:

- any comment on any blog tour post counts as an entry
- as does any tweet with #merge1889
- as does any Facebook mention tagging the 1889 Labs page
- plus subscribing to our newsletter is 5 entries

On top of having a chance to win all the offered Goodies from the generous folks at 1889 Labs, I’ll be hosting a giveaway for any 1889 Labs book of the winner’s choosing. Because I like to spoil you guys when I can. Which I admit isn’t nearly often enough.

See you on May 29th and June 4th!

Touchstone by Letitia Coyne

May 9, 2012

When war is all you’ve ever known, the promise of peace is more terrifying than any battle.

For Freya, there is no life worth remembering before the army, and none worth imagining after. Born to the lowest caste of a brutally bigoted society, she’s found no more horror on the battlefield than she knew on the streets.

And she’s earned a lot more respect with a sword in her hand.

As a young man, Dragan was blooded on the rush of adrenaline and sated by the euphoria of victory. With Freya beside him as his partner, he was indestructible. But age and mortality are gaining ground, and cracks have started to appear.

He’s had fifteen years of war and he’s earned his retirement.

Together they survived the war. But can they survive peace when it means different things to each of them?

Full Disclosure: I requested this book for review from the author, Letitia Coyne.

I had a hard time writing a review forTouchstone, not because it isn’t beautifully written and thought-provoking, it definitely is. The trouble lies in the fact that the blurb is just a little too good at telling you everything you need to know about the story. This is a very straight forward tale. There aren’t many surprises to be had. This isn’t a criticism, as I feel the book is mainly character driven and luckily for me the characters are very interesting.

Freya is the perfect soldier, married to the job. She is a hard woman to love, something Dragan hasn’t yet begun to suspect. He’s all too eager to take her away from this life and settle down. But settling down was never in Freya’s plan. Touchstone doesn’t just ask can two people who’ve only known war survive peace, it also asks what happens when you only love the idea of a person, and not who they really are deep down in their core. This is something I’ve thought about a lot in life and so the book really resonated with me on that level.It also looks at what happens when you take away the thing that we feel defines us as individuals, and whether or not we can live with ourselves afterward.

For all of her flaws-hell, because of her flaws, Freya is a very relate able and enigmatic character. She is human and falls victim to fear when she realizes the life she planned for herself is being compromised by Dragan’s dreams-good intentions-for them.  She’s always known she’d die on the battlefield, but Dragan’s having none of that. He’d prefer she end up some “fat-ass farmgirl”, fat and happy on his farm in the mountains. But she’s not so sure their ideas of happiness are one and the same. I admit…I found it very hard to like Dragan, even though I understood his motivation.

Just in case I have any followers in the HEA crowd (only God knows why you’d be here), Touchstone is not the book for you.

Everyone else? Go read it with my blessing.

You can purchase Touchstone from Amazon or Smashwords.

One Blood by Qwantu Amaru

April 19, 2012

A supernatural curse torments a group of people unaware of their hidden connections. Set in and throughout Louisiana, the story takes the reader on an epic journey from the 1800′s to the early 2000′s.

Full Disclosure: Thanks to the author, Qwantu Amaru, for sending the review copy!

I found myself a little intimidated at the prospect of reviewing One Blood. The blurb may be short and sweet, but the word epic is well deserved as a descriptor. Not only is One Blood meticulously plotted and paced at just the right speed to keep you turning page after page until well into the midnight hours, but it’s so well written that I had trouble believing it to be a debut novel. And yet, it does appear to be. Mr. Amaru must have been honing his skills for a long time, because One Blood does not read like a debut novel at all.

Reader beware! This book is not for the faint of heart. Few of the characters are likeable, (not really an issue for me, so this isn’t a criticism) and some are damn right despicable. And while you may wish to read past midnight, because the book’s just that damn good, I would advise not to. There are quite a number of scenes that will make it difficult to sleep after reading…

While mostly unlikeable, I did find the characters very realistic. Sadly, I think some of them may have been realistic because of how unlikeable they could be. I am sorry to be so vague about plot details, but I am just so loathe to spoil any of you. Because the heart of the book revolves around secrets that unfold as the plot thickens. One Blood keeps you guessing. What I can tell you is that the book spans from the 1800s to the early 2000s, and there is a lot of back and forth. I really enjoyed the use of flashbacks to establish and even develop several of the characters connections and relationships though. I thought the author did a superb job of making those scenes seamless instead of intruding. Naturally, threads involving slavery and racism are woven into the novel, including the role racism plays into the justice system in America to this very day.

One Blood has absolutely earned it’s place on my keeper shelf.

I highly recommend One Blood to those who enjoy dark, gritty, thought-provoking epics full of intrigue and aren’t put off by characters who constantly get their hands dirty. It can be bought at Amazon.

Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby

April 11, 2012

Self-professed nerd Maddie Maloney is an expert on jewels. Jewel thieves are another matter entirely! So when a mysterious Englishman warns her that a thief known as The Chameleon is after the rare pink diamond on display in her aunt’s shop, she tells herself it’s just a joke. Even if she can’t get Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome out of her mind…

But Fabian Montgomery doesn’t give up easily. He’s everywhere she goes, convinced the thief will strike. And when the diamond does go missing-and Maddie is suspected of stealing it-he whisks her away from the police and together they pursue The Chameleon.

Fabian plunges her into a glamorous world far from her humble workshop and transforms geeky Maddie into a sophisticated siren capable of espionage. Her mission: to seduce The Chameleon and steal back the diamond.

But Fabian isn’t telling her everything-like who he works for, and why he’s so interested in The Chameleon…

Full Disclosure: I requested this book from the author, Joan Kilby, in return for a review. Positive or Negative.

Every once in awhile, I need a ‘sweetness and light’ book to not burn out on all the dark fiction I read. When I saw Carina Press’ newsletter promoting Gentlemen Prefer Nerds, I knew I had a winner.A geeky heroine? A mysterious Brit? Jewel Thief?! Count me in! It’s nice to see geeks as MCs in the rise of the Geek Revolution, don’tcha know? Maddie, said geeky heroine, is very likeable. Though I couldn’t relate to her vast knowledge and fixation on jewels, I thought the author did a good job of making me, the reader, understand it. Besides, how could I not love a cat owner? Meanwhile Fabian made for a charming hero. I appreciated his by the book attitude and determination to devote everything to his mission. And I loved the exotic Australian setting!

I really appreciated the light-hearted humor, mostly Maddie’s spy hijinx. I giggled a lot.  Maddie’s family also provides a very interesting-and hilarious-dynamic.

Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby is a fun, quirky, romp-and great for a quickie read! Take the afternoon off, put up your feet and prepare to lose yourself in a charming romantic adventure.

You can purchase Gentlemen Prefer Nerds at Carina Press, Amazon, and B&N.

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