Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

Jenny poxAuthor: J.L. Bryan

Title: Jenny Pox

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Paranormal

Published:  July 24th 2010 by

“Jenny is a quiet, small-town girl in South Carolina whose touch spreads a deadly supernatural plague. Jenny can't control her power. Her life is friendless and lonely until she meets a boy with the opposite power, a healing touch. Her love for him brings the wrath of his beautiful and immensely popular girlfriend Ashleigh, who secretly wields the most dangerous power of all.Jenny must master her own deadly power in order to free Seth from Ashleigh's control. Then she must defeat Ashleigh before Ashleigh can destroy her.”

*I received my copy for review by the author*


I already stated in the interview with Jeff Bryan yesterday that this book really managed to surprise me. When I started reading, I expected a girl-meets-boy YA book with paranormal touch. Turns out I was wrong.

Jenny Pox tells a powerful and intense story of an outsider who has to struggle to live with her horrible power. It begins with a very disturbing scene introducing Jenny as toddler playing with a snake and killing her with her touch. It´s disturbing because even if she´s so small, Jenny is already aware of her power: she knows she has to stick to some rules:

Never touch people. Never talk to anybody but Daddy.

And, above all, never tell anyone. She´s also aware that she´s the reason her mom is dead, which is really a sad thing to know for a girl at that age. What makes the scene even harder to bare is the fact that her dad can´t even confort her through direct physical touch but has to put on a special cuddle suit and mask to be anyhow near his daughter.

The next part of the book introduces Jenny as teenager and how she handles her daily life: How she avoids touching people in order to not hurt or accidentally kill someone and how that makes her a freak and outcast, espacially because of Ashleigh. Ashleigh is the girl everyone loves, everyone wants to be friends with. The girl that decides who is cool and who´s not. And Jenny who wears mittens the whole year is definetly different and thus definetly not cool. She is shunned and mocked by everyone on school. Add to this the fact that her father is basically an alcoholic and makes just enough money to come by, you can get a picture of Jenny´s life.

A major change happens when her dog Rocky is hit by a car and saved by –of all people- Seth, Ashleigh´s beloved and devoted boyfriend. It turns out that he also has a gift no one knows about: the healing touch. Finally, her life begins to change. She finds someone she can talk with and confide in, someone who shares the same fears and worries like her. Slowly, she begins to fall for Seth and when she finds out that he is the only one she can touch without infecting, she finds something positive to hope for in the future, But unfortunatly, the happy days don´t last long. Ashleigh finds out about their growing relationship and tries to move heaven and earth to manipulate them. What she doesn´t know however is that with her actions, she sets something in motion she might not be able to stop.

The pace of this book is just right. At the beginning, J.L. Bryan takes his time to introduce his characters, to develop them and set the stage for everything else that´s going to happen. After Seth´s secret is revealed, it picks up the pace until it ends with a huge huge escalation.

Another thing that makes Jenny Pox such a great book are the complex, compelling and realistic character. Jenny, the ultimative outsider who longs for company and physical contact yet thinks this might be forever denied for her. It´s amazing how she puts up with all theanger, hate and harassment she has to deal with because of Ashleigh. It´s really no wonder that at times she is about to snap and lose control of her power. The problems she has to deal with from her family´s side would be enough for a normal teenager: feeling responible for the death of her mother, her alcoholic father, the fact that she has to work to make more money. It´s sweet to finally see her develop romantic feelings for the very first time. Together with Seth, she grows quite a bit in the story!

Ashleigh must be one of the most manipulative, cruel, two-faced, begoted b***hes I´ve ever come across in books. She uses sex, religion and love to control people and make them do her bidding ruthlessly. I really don´t want to gove too much away, but the things she does to be on TV or a radio show is really beyond anything some sane would do. The only person she can´t control and in fact the only person to see her for what she really is is Jenny. That´s the reason Ashleigh hates her so much and tries her best to destroy her.

Seth is a really sweet character and gets even more likeable as he slowly frees himself from Ashleigh´s influence. Sometimes, he´s like other boys his age but then again he´s so much more mature.

Even the minor characters in this book nover fall flat but convince with their authentic and realistic personalities. One of my favorites is definetly Jenny´s father who changes quite a bit throughout the book.

The paranormal aspect is strictly limited to the gifts. I didn´t mind however, especially as there is an explanation for it at the end of the book and that was all I wanted. There are some things left unsaid and unresolved, which only makes you want to read more about Jenny.

For everyone who, like me, expects a Young Adult book: here´s a warning. This story contains sex scenes, drug use, violence and at the end quite a few gory scenes. In the interview, I already asked whether this book might be considered offensive by some certain groups, so if you don´t want to read about such things, please stay away from them.

For all the others who don´t mind reading about that, go on and give it a try. You won´t regret it!

It´s a page-turner who convinces with fantastic characters, an original story and great writing. It´s pretty much everything you could wish for!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interview & Giveaway: J.L. Bryan


Hello my dear readers! Today, I have another interview with author J.L. Bryan for you! His book, Jenny Pox was one of the few book this year that genuinly surprised me. What I at first thought was a good Young Adult book with a paranormal touch (Sorry Jeff for maeking rash assumptions) turned out to be so much more. It really blew me away, in the positive sense! But I don´t want to give too much away, you´ll have to read my review tomorrow and the book for that! :)

For now, give it up for Jeff!


Welcome Jeff and thank you so much for stopping by for this interview!

Thanks for having me as your guest on your dark and lovely blog, Christine.

Jenny pox For all my readers who haven´t hear about “Jenny Pox” yet, could you sum up the story in your own words?

Jenny Pox is the story of a girl named Jenny Morton, who is born with a supernatural ability that’s both powerful and not very helpful to her. Anyone she touches gets infected with a horrible disease, like the bubonic plague in fast-forward. Her touch is fatal if she touches someone for any length of time. She can’t turn it off or control it at all.

This shapes her whole life. She doesn’t make any friends, and generally avoids people as much as she can, so that she doesn’t hurt anyone. This makes her an outcast at school, and it doesn’t help that she wears gloves all year round (again, to avoid touching people). They call her “Jenny Mittens” and basically think she’s a freak. She’s also very poor even by the standards of the shrinking little rural town where she lives.

She discovers that a boy in town has the opposite power—he can heal people with his touch. Because of this, he’s the only boy in the world who can touch her. Fortunately, Jenny develops a lot of affection for this boy—unfortunately, his girlfriend Ashleigh hates Jenny. Ashleigh is a very popular, manipulative girl, and she has a secret power, too. Her touch makes people feel love. This gives her tremendous power over almost everyone (except Jenny, who she can’t touch because of Jenny’s nasty power), and she plans to destroy Jenny by turning everyone against her in a very extreme way.

Where did you get the inspiration for this story about people with gifts and these special gifts in general from? Was it more of a process or something that just came to you?

I wish every story came this easily. One morning in August 2009, I got the whole story all at once. I hadn’t thought about any of these characters or situations before—but suddenly I knew all about Jenny, her power, how it had shaped her life, the major conflicts and other characters—everything fell into my head in one complete ball. I spent about a month unspooling that ball, writing the first draft. I wrote on my lunch break, I wrote in the evenings until about midnight, I wrote all weekend. I could not stop writing until that first draft was done. I barely slept.

Which character is your favorite? And which one was hardest to write?

It’s hard to pick one favorite out of this group. Jenny’s personality was very strong to me and I felt a deep emotional connection to her. Ashleigh was fun to write—a wicked, scheming villain always is!

My favorite character might be Jenny’s dad, just because he has so many problems himself and he has to raise Jenny alone, despite the fact that he can’t touch her at all. He manages to work out solutions to this difficult problem, and he does a pretty good job raising her given the circumstances.

The hardest character to write may have been Seth, since he was a little more of a mystery to me from the beginning. I had to figure out where he really stood, how much of his personality was his own and how much had been shaped by Ashleigh’s enchantment. I’m pretty happy with how he turned out.

A while ago, I read this article here. While reading your book, I was reminded of it the whole time.  Would you think that your book is something that the author of said article would consider as “filthy” and “Soft Porn”?

The author of said article is clearly dying to label things “filthy.” This goes back to the controversy over Speak. I haven’t read that book, but I’m certainly much more likely to do so now it’s been banned in some places. From what I understand, the book portrays a character who suffers being raped. So long as this is an issue that women must think about, it will and should be reflected in literature. The article writer doesn’t understand that literature reflects life, and it is one way we deal with the difficult and painful issues of life. Women, including teenage girls, must deal with the reality of rape, whether the article writer himself wants to think about it or not. If we could remove something from literature and thereby remove it from the real world, then that would be a different story. But that’s not how the world works.

In Jenny Pox, there’s less sex and drugs than in the teen movies I watched as a kid. And those issues are much tamer in Jenny Pox than what I actually saw and experienced in high school. My only interest was trying to deal with them honestly. I don’t know if I could write about adolescence where sex and drugs are not major concerns—that wouldn’t fit my experience at all and would feel like dishonest writing.

Ashleigh treats sex as a way to manipulate, control and confuse people. For Jenny, it’s about opening up to another person, letting down the emotional barricade behind which she has lived all her life. These things occurred organically to the story, and I didn’t make any special effort to put them in or leave them out.

Ultimately, sex is central to life—just ask any plant or animal.

Were you afraid that your book might be banned because of its content?

No, because the book has to be somewhere before it can be banned. Jenny Pox isn’t located in any school library, and I don’t expect it to be. If it were to be banned somewhere, that would be great for me, because more people would probably read the book as a result.

With Ashleigh, your book features a character who is outwardly the perfect conservative Christian, but has a whole different agenda. Is it safe to assume that your book could also be viewed as social criticism?

In the broadest sense, that aspect of the book is about how those who want to do evil find it most effective to wrap themselves in whatever symbols the society around them considers good. Political and religious symbols, as well as key words and phrases related to patriotism and religion, are the best way to short-circuit any rational thought process on the part of your audience. Appeal to their deeper emotions and they’re less likely to question the logic of what you’re saying or ask for evidence.

Ashleigh’s social instincts are basically Machiavellian. She knows what people in her town value and what their views are—and she’s aware of similar things on the national level—and she is great as positioning herself as a moral, upright person that everyone is supposed to like and trust.

I think this applies in a general way to leaders, political or religious, who cleverly use what people already value in order to manipulate them and gain their loyalty.

The story ends (after a huge escalation I might add), leaving a few things unresolved. Is there a chance that we might get another story about Jenny and Seth?

The chance is growing daily. People who read the book generally expect more stories to follow, and I’ve had requests for a sequel. I don’t usually write sequels, but I wouldn’t mind spending some more time in the world of Jenny Pox—as you mention, there’s a lot left to explore. I feel very connected to these characters, and they basically wrote their own story last time, so maybe they’ll do it again for me.

I actually have a pretty strong idea of what will happen in the next story, so that’s a good sign I’m going to write it. I have another book to finish right now, and there are a couple of places I want to travel before starting a sequel to Jenny Pox. I probably won’t really get to work on it until 2011.

Is there something you want your readers to learn from your book or something they should take with them?

The story has a lot to do with the inner experience of conditions like depression and social anxiety. I don’t have a particular message—if you’ve experienced these things, maybe it provides a sympathetic story. If you haven’t, maybe it gives some insight into how much emotional pain people can suffer without anybody else realizing it. And there’s something to do with the importance of love, but I’m not wise enough to try to summarize that in words.

Can you share something about the story that didn´t make it into the book?

Originally, the story opened with Jenny’s birth, which was a horrific bit of story. I later decided to drop that first chapter. It was just too gory and too sad, but also I wanted to tell the book mostly from Jenny’s perspective. With the original opening chapter, the story started from her father’s perspective instead. It later seemed unnecessary to include the scene at all, and you always cut what you can when you’re rewriting.

Jenny Pox is in major parts written from the perspective of a teenage girl. Did you find it hard not only to write from a female POV, but also a teenager’s?

This wasn’t too much of a struggle when writing because I understood and felt Jenny so strongly as an individual. As long as I focused on “Would Jenny do this? Would Jenny say this?” I was fine. I didn’t try to expand the question to “Would a teenage girl say or do this?” because there is no generic teenage girl. Everyone’s an individual.

I did worry about whether the character was going to come across correctly or not, whether I was doing a good enough job rendering her for the readers. So far, I’ve heard from many female readers (include the most important one, my wife!) and they seem to think I did a pretty decent job.

If I’d thought about the difficulty of writing such a character in advance, given my double handicap of being male as well as having been out of high school for more than a decade—I might have found it daunting. Since the story came fully inspired, I fortunately didn’t have to worry over those things until it was time to revise.

I don’t think the story would have worked with a male protagonist. It just seemed to demand a female protagonist and a female villain.

Vampire Satire Tell us something about your other projects. One of it is a satire about vampires called Mid-Afternoon: The Overhyped, Ultra-Sexy, Chilling, Frightening, Blood-Curling Tale Regarding the Latter Day Vampires, right? You´re not a big fan of vamps?

Oh, no, I love vampires! Why else would I have read the different vampire books I satirize in that book? And I never miss an episode of True Blood.

Mid-Afternoon started as a parody of Twilight that I posted on Facebook as I wrote it, one chapter at a time, basically to amuse and/or annoy my wife and her friends (many of her friends are huge Twilight fans). The story kept going and swelled to include a lot of the vampire books I grew up reading, like ‘Salem’s Lot and Anne Rice’s book. It ends up looking at the different kinds of vampires out there—from your mouldering old Nosferatu types to those sparkly and relatively harmless Stephanie Meyer vampires. The different vampire types aren’t getting along, and they each have their own ideas about what a vampire should be. It’s largely about how the vampire myth has evolved in popular culture, and how different people react to that.

Would you say that your mood has an influence on your writing and the story in general?

I don’t think so on a day-to-day basis. The mystery writer Lawrence Block once wrote something—and I’m very much paraphrasing, but it’s basically: “There are days when you feel inspired and the writing just flows. There are days when it feels like a struggle to write anything. When I revise, I can’t tell what I wrote on a good day and what I wrote on a bad day. It’s impossible to distinguish.”

That has helped me through every rough patch. It’s true. Your writing skills are where they are after years of reading and writing. Your skills don’t shoot way up because you’re in a good mood, nor do they go away because you’re in a bad mood.

On the other hand, the general tone of my work tends to be dark, softened with humor and moments of sweetness. That is the general tone of how I’ve experienced life. There are all these horrific things going on—wars and poverty and just crushing problems—but humor is the best tool for coping with that. And there are moments in life that are painfully sweet and sometimes make the rest of the suffering seem worthwhile.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Music, books, TV shows or real life?

Everywhere. I would say that the emotional cores of characters tend to come from real life, either from feelings I’ve had or how I’ve seen other people act. Music is critical to my writing process. By the time I’ve finished a book, it’s evolved a soundtrack in my mind. For Jenny Pox, there was a lot of old country, like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, since she the old records are her main inheritance from her mom.  I also listened to some harder and darker music while writing the story, a lot of White Zombie and Nine Inch Nails.

How does your typical writing day look like? Do you have a special routine?

I work a day job, so my writing day starts on my lunch break. I normally hand-write a few pages at lunch. When I get home, I start by transcribing those pages and then adding more. The transcription process is also a revision process. I hate using laptops so I don’t have one of those. I may break down and buy an iPad, though, to help support my writing-at-the-coffee-shop habit.

You´ve studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on English Renaissance and Romantic literature, and screenwriting at UCLA. Wow. Is that something that actually helps you while writing, or would you say that you could have written your books without it?

I don’t think my books would be at all the same without those experiences. I had some great teachers, both at UGA and Oxford, who helped me to understand literature at a deeper level than I would have discovered on my own, or at least it would have taken many more years of personal study.

The UCLA experience was critical for my writing. Previously, I’d studied under English professors. It’s an entirely different animal to study writing under screenwriters who have made their living for years by writing stories. They know exactly the kinds of things you struggle with, and they have so many insights into the actual craft of writing and how to solve problems, and how to get the most use out of what you have. My workshop teacher, Debra Baron, was full of great insights. I’d already been writing for many years by then, so my brain was prepared to soak up all that craft-related knowledge and put it to immediate use.

A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or maybe even a little bit about yourself or are they all purely fictional? Did some of your own High School experiences make into the book?

I think most characters are a patchwork of yourself and other people. Jenny has a lot of the same emotional makeup I did as an adolescent, the sense of loneliness and isolation and not really finding anybody that you connect with. There are any number of people in the world like Ashleigh, who are self-righteous and moralizing in public but won’t hesitate to hurt people who get in their way.

No character in the book is based on a specific person in real life. I wouldn’t even know how to do that except in the case of minor characters, and I wouldn’t really want to, because a character needs plenty of room to be himself or herself. I wouldn’t want to trap them inside my impression of another person.

Some of my high school experiences did make it into the book, although in a way that’s completely changed to fit into the story.

Did you ever have a writer´s block? If so, what did you do to deal with it?

I never run out of things to write. I do sometimes hit “slowdowns” where I’m trying to work something out, consciously or subconsciously, and only turning out a page or two a day. This ends with a renewed burst of writing when I sort out the problem. I typically write every day. I think writer’s block is mostly a problem of not feeling like writing on a particular day.

Tell us something about your favourites:
Favourite authors?

Hard question! I think Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde are some of my favourite writers of the English language. In horror, I grew up with Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, that generation of writers. Scott Nicholson is one of my favorite writers, not just because of his great Appalachian horror stories but because he’s done a lot to help and advise me.

favourite paranormal creature?

This is hard, too—but I’m going with werewolf. I’ve just always liked them a lot.

favourite all time hero/heroine?

Odysseus, the original trickster.

favourite all time villain?
Baron Harkonnen from Dune. Now that is a villain!

Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader?

E-reader. They don’t use up so many trees, and they’re addictively convenient. I’m kind of a book grazer these days, so it’s nice to have plenty of books with you wherever you go.

favourite distraction?

My wife and I taking the dogs to the park. You never regret spending an afternoon there.

Did you ever have a major computer catastrophe/problem during writing? And how many back-up copies do you usually have?

Yes, I have! I nearly lost a whole year’s worth of writing once. Now I back everything up on flash drive, CD, and a few other places.

Was being an author something you´ve always wanted or did it just happen?

I’ve never wanted to do anything else. I’ve been writing stories since I was 6 or 7 years old, and as soon as I realized people did that for a living, my mind was made up.

A question that is inspired by another interview I did with an author: If you would be Superman, what would be your Kryptonite?

Television! It drains so much time if you let it. Even educational TV is mostly a waste of time, since you spend an hour learning what you could have learned in five minutes of reading.

33AD What are you reading at the moment/planning to read/waiting for to be released?

I’m currently reading 33 A.D by David McAfee (a vampire book!) and Drummer Boy by Scott Nicholson.

And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers?

I’d like to thank your readers for taking the time to read this interview. They should also know they can read several chapters of Jenny Pox for free by downloading the sample from Smashwords (located here). If they have any questions for me, they can post it in your comments section and I’ll come back around to answer them.

Thanks so much for having me visit, Christine! I’ve enjoyed my time here on the Dark Side.


Thank you for taking the time to stop and answer all my questions! It´s been a great pleasure and honor! I´d be happy if you would stop by again anytime soon!


And now… the giveaway! Jeff has generously offered to provide one free ebook copy of anyone of you guys! That´s right, open INTERNATIONAL! The giveaway will be open for exactly one week until October 6th. All double entries will be deleted!


All you have to do is fill out the form below and leave a comment or question about anything in this interview!

New Cover unveiled: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever cover

I love it!!! it is still in style with the previous two books, and after blue and green, the red shades fit really well into the whole series!

What do you think about it?

Teaser Tuesday

tsrtues1Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by  MizB at Should be Reading.

Here are the rules:

  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  • Here´s my teaser for this week:

    Black Blade Blues

    You must use Gram to slay a dragon”

    Dragon?” Katie chirped. “Like, scales and fire and wings?”

    Yes, that is one form they may take,” he said. “In this case, he is an investment banker in Portland”

    Katie and I exchanged bemused glances.

    Dragons accumulate wealth,” Rolph assured us. “they are ingenious in their methods.”

    We both started laughing.

    p. 38

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Review: Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising

    Alex van Helsing Vamipre RisingTitle: Alex Van Helsing: Vampire Rising

    Author: Jason Henderson

    Published: May 1st 2010 by HarperTeen

    Genre: Young Adult

    A descendant of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, fourteen-year-old Alex is stuck at boarding school near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, when he finds himself drawn into a web of paranormal intrigue. It turns out that Lake Geneva is also home to a secret school for vampires called the Scholomance—and now to a dangerous vampire clan lord known only as Icemaker, who’s using the Scholomance for his own dangerous endgame. With the help of his friends and of special agent Sangster, it’s up to Alex to fulfill his family destiny and stop Icemaker’s frightening plans once and for all.


    Alex Van Helsing kind of reminded me a little of "Harry Potter”: boy comes to a boarding school, is somehow different, is being picked on by bullies, finds friends and faces dangers and mortal enemies. It´s not a bad thing, really!

    Alex is a very strong character for being only fourteen years old. Even though he is being sent to a foreign country, experiencing things that –according to his father- just can´t be. At first, he tries to make himself believe he´s turning crazy (seemingly a poplar coping mechanism among character who are introduced into the superal world)But with  his last name, the reader doesn´t have to wait long for supernatural trouble.

    Of cousre, he doesn´t have to face the trouble alone On his side are his new-found friends: Sid, who obesses about vampires, Paul and Minhi, the girl with the brains and mad kung-fu skills from another local, all-girls boarding school. Also, there is Alex´s teacher Mr. Sangster, who is definetly more than meets the eye and has not only a secret identity, but also something else we´ll hopefully find out in the next book.

    All of those characters are wrapped up in a stroy that does a great job of entertaining you with the right amont of pace, suspense and twists.

    Jason Henderson stays true to the classical role assignment: vamps are definetly the bad guys in this book. Along with the all-powerful arch-nemesis of Alex´s family who wants to tries to force his very own plan into motion. The author has definetly set his world up to make an impression: The very first appearance of the enemy complete with security and limos makes quite an impression. Add to that a secret anti-vamire organisation, the secret underwater school for vampires and the very fitting name of the vampire leader, Icemaker and you get one great worldbulding.

    Alex Van Helsing is definetly a Young Adult book, which is not a bad thing. I can really imagine that readers around the same age as the protagonist (especially the male ones) will really enjoy this book.

    What really appealed to me were all the literary references throughout the book: Jason Herderson ties his vampires to Lord Byron (yes, THE Lord Byron), Dracula, Frankenstein and adds a literary nod to zombies and you get a James Bond meets Buffy the vampire Slayer for Young Adults, even though older readers might prefer another kind of book.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Interview & Giveaway with Lori Brighton

    Hello my dear readers!

    I´m back with another interview for you! Today, I´m having Urban Fantasy and Romance author Lori Brighton over to chat with me about her books, writing and stuff!
    Please welcome Lori!

    Lori Brighton 

    ghost hunter For all those who haven´t heard about your book, please tell us what “The Ghost Hunter” about?

    Sure! The Ghost Hunter is a contemporary paranormal romance, available in ebook format. I’ll give you the blurb:

    When Ashley Hunter inherits the Inn where her father mysteriously vanished years ago, she jumps at the chance to finally uncover the truth about his disappearance. But soon after taking ownership of the decrepit building, Ashley realizes she’s in for far more than she bargained. Not only has she inherited answers to many sought-after questions, she’s also inherited spirits, demons and even fallen angels! Then Cristian arrives, a gorgeous man who insists he merely needs a room to rent. She believes him, until one by one her ghosts start disappearing.

    As a fallen angel destined for a life of servitude, Cristian Lucius is relegated to protecting earth from unwanted spirits. But he can’t accomplish this daunting task alone. He requires assistance from the very woman who frustrates him as much as she intrigues him. Cristian is determined to ignore his intense attraction for Ashley, and focus on his mission. If they don’t work together, they won’t have a chance in hell of defeating the demon threatening their lives. The problem is getting Ashley to trust him. No easy task, for Cristian is the very man responsible for her father’s disappearance.

    On your homepage I read that you are living in the Midwest. Your book however is set in England. Why the change of location? Is the Midwest too boring for an exciting fantasy novel?

    LoL! Depends on where you live. Actually, I’m of the belief that there is something interesting about every place. But I’m in the south now, just haven’t gotten around to changing my website.

    My debut book was a historical set in England because I love the area and because (according to publishers) that’s what sells (books placed in England). I guess that location never left my mind. But it’s also the historical depth you find there and the paranormal possibilities. In the United States you’re more limited if you want to find places of historical significance. Although I was just vacationing in St. Augustine, Florida and it totally changed my mind. The history there is amazing. All kinds of possibilities for ghosts!

    The accents are incredibly realistic. Did you have a native speaker who helped you with them or are you some kind of expert on accents?

    I’m so glad you think they’re realistic! I was on the fence about doing accents. They always tell you that trying to write an accent in a book is a big NO, that readers will get annoyed with them. I went with my gut on that. So far no one has complained. I wish I could say I became an expert on accents when I went to Spy school. But no, I’m no expert. lol. I actually checked out some books written by natives of the area. So I found an Irish author when writing the Irish accent.

    Did you do any kind of research for your books? Were you actually in England or did you do most of the research online?

    Thank god for the internet! Yes, most of my research is done online. But I have been to England. Was a wonderful experience! I hope to go back soon.

    In your book, the usual suspects in the Urban Fantasy genre play are only supporting characters. What in your opinion makes the appeal of Fallen Angels and ghosts?

    Ghosts are so universal! You’re not just dealing with the paranormal when you write about ghosts, but you’re also dealing with the afterlife and what happens when we die. Everyone wonders about that.

    As for Angels, to me they are certainly appealing. Readers love the idea of a very bad guy with a heart of gold. In my opinion the idea of a Fallen Angel personifies that.

    Tell us a little bit about the world of the fallen angels in your book. Can you share anything that hasn´t made it into the book?

    I don’t necessarily agree with the ideas in my book, but that’s the great thing about inventing your own story, anything goes. We’ve all heard the story of Angels escorting the dead to Heaven. In this version, my Fallen Angels are being punished by escorting the more reluctant dead.

    As for the book, you know, I’m not one of those writers who plan in detail her plot ahead of time, so pretty much anything I think up as I’m writing goes into the story. I did delete a secondary character because I was trying to cut word count and the number of characters.

    Can we hope for more books about sexy Fallen Angels?

    I hope so! We’ll see. I’d love to write a book about Devon, a secondary character in The Ghost Hunter. But honestly, it will depend on how well The Ghost Hunter sells.

    Wild Heart Beside “The Ghost Hunter”, you´ve got another book published called “Wild Heart”. Can you give a summary about it?

    Sure! Wild Heart is the first book in a two book series. The second book, Wild Desire, will be available in March. These are Victorian historicals with paranormal elements. Wild Heart is a bit darker and moodier. Wild Desire more adventurous and fun.

    Can you name the key ingredients of your books in short words?

    Adventure, mystery and romance.

    What project(s) are you currently working on?

    I have a Young Adult book that is with two editors right now. As for what to work on next…hmm, I’m really not sure! I have another Contemporary Paranormal I’ve started. I might finish that up. But I do love historicals too and have a couple projects I could work on in that genre. I tend to work on whatever I’m in the mood to write that day.

    Where do you get your inspiration from? Music, books, TV shows or real life?

    I get inspiration from everything! Movies, books, T.V. shows, maybe the News. I just went on a Ghost Walking tour of St. Augustine and the stories they told were amazing! There are certainly lots of book you could get from that. As for my newest book, I got the idea for The Ghost Hunter after going on The Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World.

    How does your typical writing day look like? Do you have a special routine?

    I should write during the day when I have time, but as much as I try, I’m a night owl. I love to stay up late. Of course I always regret it when I have to get up early the next morning.

    What is the hardest part about being an author?

    It’s not the writing aspect. It’s the afterwards. Worrying that no one will like your book, worrying you won’t sell enough copies to get another contract. And as much as authors like to deny it, bad reviews do hurt. Imagine working on a project for 6 months and your boss telling you it sucks!

    A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or maybe even a little bit about yourself or are they all purely fictional?

    I’d say they’ve got a lot of me in them. There are quirks I will take from people I know or see, interesting habits. But I haven’t written a character yet based solely on someone.

    Did you ever have a writer´s block? If so, what did you do to deal with it?
    So far I’ve never had writer’s block. There are times I don’t feel like writing, but I just force myself to, even if the writing isn’t great.

    Tell us something about your favourites:

    favourite paranormal creature?
    Fallen Angels of course! I like Vampires too. But for me it’s not so much about the creature, but more about how the author writes the creature.

    favourite all time hero/heroine?

    Not sure about heroines, but as for heroes, any hero from a Julie Garwood book. I think she writes the best heroes ever.

    favourite meal?

    Seriously, I don’t think I could pick just one.

    Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader?
    A year ago I would have said printed book. I’m still leaning a little more toward print but just because I love to collect signed books. But I’m definitely more open to ebooks now because I have so many friends who are writing ebooks, and, of course, because I’ve written an ebook.

    favourite distraction?

    Television! I love my T.V. shows. And there are too many to list!

    Is there a book you love above all? One that had a great influence on you or your life?

    Guardian Angel Guardian Angel by Julie Garwood. It was the first romance I read. I totally fell in love with Romance novels after reading that book.

    Has there ever been a major catastrophe with your laptop while writing? How many backup copies of your scripts do you have?

    So far no catastrophe, knock on wood. I shudder at the thought of it! I often send my books to my email account as an attachment because I’m too lazy to constantly save it.

    A question that is inspired by another interview I did with an author: If you would be Superman, what would be your cryptonite?

    Hmm, something tangible? Chocolate.

    What are you reading at the moment/planning to read/waiting for to be released?
    Well, I just went through my final copy edits for Wild Desire. Usually when you’ve gone over one of your own books that many times, you’re kind of sick of it. But I actually still enjoyed reading it! It’s a lot of fun. So now I’m just waiting for March, when it will be out in bookstores, available as a printed book and ebook.

    I’ve also started going through my Young Adult book once more. As I mentioned, it’s with two editors. If they reject it I will immediately self publish it in Ebook format on Amazon. So it will be out sometime soon either way! It was a really fun book, a totally unique paranormal. At least, I guess you’d call it paranormal.

    And now I just have to decide what project to work on next!

    And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers?

    Readers are so incredibly important to an author’s career. I don’t think they realize how important they are. So if you enjoy a book, please tell your friends!

    I have to say that meeting so many wonderful people is the best thing about becoming an author. I have met amazing readers and bloggers from all over the world, people who have taken time out of their busy days to help promote my book or email to tell me how much they enjoyed my story. It means so much to me and I appreciate everyone!


    Thanks so much for this fun interview! It´s been a great pleasure! Please come back anytime you want!


    And now to the fun part: Lori has been kind enough to offer TWO e-copy of her book The Ghost Hunter to you! It´s open INTERNATIONAL!!!

    All you have to do is leave a comment for Lori about anything in this interview, about her book or a question, if you want to and fill out the form below!

    The giveaway ends October 3rd, the winners will be announced in the following week! If there are a double entries, all but one will be deleted!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Review: Ghost Hunter

    ghost hunter Title: The Ghost Hunter

    Author: Lori Brighton

    Genre: Urban Fantasy

    Published: September 11th, smashwords

    Ashley Hunter is intent on uncovering the truth about her father's disappearance. But Ashley realizes she's in for more than she bargained. Not only has she inherited a decrepit pub, she's also inherited ghosts and demons. Then Cristian arrives, a mysterious man who insists he only needs a room to rent. She believes him, until one by one her ghosts start disappearing...
    As a fallen angel destined for a life of servitude, Cristian Lucius is relegated to protecting earth from unwanted spirits. But he can’t accomplish this daunting task alone. He requires assistance from the very woman who frustrates him as much as she intrigues him. Cristian is determined to ignore his intense attraction for Ashley, and focus on his mission. If they don’t work together, they won’t have a chance in hell of defeating the demon threatening their lives. The problem is getting Ashley to trust him. No easy task, for Cristian is the very man responsible for her father’s disappearance.

    “Considering the place was at least three hundered years old, she supposed it could have been worse. Then again, it could have been better… much, much better. Hell, who was she kidding; not even Frankenstein could feel at home in this pub of horrors.”

    The Ghost Hunter is a dark and haunting Urban Fantasy story that features everything a good book needs: a realistic, atmospheric setting, likeable characters, a sizzling love story/love triangle, fallen angels (rawr), a page turning story and Scottish accents.

    Inheriting the totally decayed pub marks a huge change in Ashley´s life; she´s left her less than great life behind her to find out about the mysterious disappearance of her father -  and finds herself sucked into a new world that will change her life.

    The dynamic between the characters was really well written: I liked how Ashley slowly came to accept her unusual roommates and even started to care about them and their well-being, despite that fact that she has suffered quite a bit earlier in her life whenever she claimed to seem ghosts. In Camile, a witch/college student she finally finds a friend who remains on her side even through the turbulent and threatening events throughout the book. Ashley grows throughout the book from someone who runs from his past to a woman who has come to terms with her abilitiy, the fact that she sees ghosts and can interact with them.

    The concept of fallen angels whose job it is to help unwilling ghosts to pass over and the demon as antagonist was new to me and very appealing. Enough of the secrets aurrounding the house, Cristian´s real character and intentions and other tidbits I don´t want to give away guarantee for an exciting read right until the very last page. The sexual tension and complex, sometimes rocky relationship between Ashley, Cristian and tempting ghost Devon is hindered by lots of emotional baggage. It definetly takes a while until two of the main characters finds their HEA.

    However, I would have liked to read a little bit more about Cristian, his past and fallen angels in general. The other supernatural being in the small village also seem to be more on the margins, they are merely used to show their need for normalcy and their adjustment to the life of “normal” people rather than to use them to create and populate a rich, paranormal world.

    Nonetheless is Ghost Hunter a great book that kept me well entertained. I´d really like to read more stories in this specific world to learn more about fallen angels.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Interview: J.A. Pitts

    Hello dear readers!

    Today, I´m back with another author interview. This time, J.A. Pitts, author of the Urban Fantasy debut novel “Black Blade Blues” has stopped by Reading on the Dark Side to answer the endless list of questions I had for him.

    Here´s the blurb for Blck Blade Blues (from goodreads):

    “Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twentysomethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval reenactment group. After the lead actor breaks Sarah’s favorite, one-of-a-kind sword, one of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help repair the blade. And that’s when things start to get weird.
    Could the sword really be magic, as the “dwarf” claims? Are dragons really living among us as shapeshifters?
    As if things weren’t surreal enough, Sarah’s girlfriend Katie breaks out the dreaded phrase…“I love you.” Her life falls apart; Sarah hits rock bottom. At this moment, when she has lost everything she once prized, one of the dragons makes a move.
    Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine who is needed to save her world.”

    Not doesn´t that sound fantastic? There are so many reasons for this book to be awesome: I love Norse mythology, strong female leads, Dan Dos Santos (who has made the cover), dwarves, dragons… Well, you get it. Also, I was really intrigued when I read that the main character is lesbian.

    If you want to know how I liked the book, check back in a few days for my review.

    But now, without any further babbling, please welcome J.A. Pitts!

    Black Blade Blues How would you describe "Black Blades Blues" in your own words? 

    Black Blade Blues is about finding your way in the world and accepting things as they are.  It's about growing into the person we are meant to be, even when we have no clue what that means.

    Can you name the key ingredients of your book? 

    Humor, adventure, heart, fear

    Why write Urban Fantasy or Fantasy, depending on what you would categorize Black Blade Blues?

    I've always loved fantasy, and some of my favorite books these days are Urban Fantasy.  But, I was trying to write something that the experienced reader may have not seen.

    Your book is highly influenced by Norse mythology. What fascinates you so much about it that you decided to base your book on it?

    First, I'd not seen much Norse mythology in fiction, and I've always loved the stories and how they've worked their way into our every day lives.  Even three days of the week are named after Norse gods.  Friday (Freya), Thursday (Thor), Wednesday (Odin).  And I didn't want to write another vampire or werewolf book.  While there are some amazing books out there, with good authors behind them, I wanted to do something different.  The way the Norse gods interacted fairly regularly with the world around them, and with all their foibles and failures, it just seemed like a good cast to play with.

    I imagine that writing a book that is also about blacksmithing and reenacting demands to do quite a lot of research. How did you do your research, meet with real blacksmiths and people who reenact or did you do most of your research online? 

    All of the above.  Read books, online research and visited a live blacksmithy.  Also, I have friends who are reenactors.  Good folks to bounce things off of.

    You write your book not only from a female POV, your main charater is also a lesbian or rather someone who is uncertain of her sexual orientation. What exactly inspired you to create this specific character?  

    I have had a lot of very strong women in my life, some of them who just happen to be in love with other women.  They've taught me a lot about life and I felt it was important to give some of that back. 

    Were you ever afraid that your book would be shunned because of the main character being lesbian? 

    Absolutely.  Some people can't see beyond an issue, and will let it color all aspects of their lives.  I understand I won't reach every reader, but I felt I had to be honest with the story and let it be what it was meant to be.  If someone doesn't like it, that's a matter of taste.  I'm sure I'll grow as a writer, and hopefully, I'll break through to some of the folks who have built up their walls.

    Was it easy for you to write from a woman´s POV? 

    I wouldn't say easy.  I had to be very careful with how I thought about things.  We make assumptions in our daily lives, and I needed to make sure and challange as many of those as I could.  Frankly, we all need love, we all struggle with our inner demons.  Most of that is the same for men and women.  I just needed to focus my lens on issues the way Sarah would see them, and then trust my first readers to help me when I hit a blind spot.

    On your homepage I read that your life was influenced a great deal by strong women. Would you say that this is something that now has an influence on your writing? 

    Absolutely.   Mentors, friends, peers and especially my wife.  They influence me every single day.  And that's the beauty of writing for me.  It's influenced by my life in general, colored by the events and people I encounter every day.

    Would you say that your mood influences your writing and the story?

    Most definitely.  Sometimes, I can't even write if I'm in the wrong mood.  Just can't find the words.  I use music to help influence that.  Different music helps evoke different moods which I use in the stories I write.  I have a soundtrack I play for different types of scenes, fast & hard metal for some, mellow for others.

    Do/Did your characters surprise you sometimes or did you have the story strictly planned ahead? 

    I outline my novels, so I'm rarely surprised by the end, but sometimes, like with Honeyed Words, I find the characters have pushed me off the prescribed path and demand I pay attention to something I was obviously missing.  This has derailed me for days at a time until I finally figured out what the white-noise was all about.  I think it makes for a much better novel.  I don't always take those surprises, but I always consider them carefully.

    Can you share something about your current project(s)? 

    Right now I'm outlining the third book in this series.  When I started writing Black Blade Blues, I had a decent idea what the first 3 books were all about.  It wasn't until I finished book 2, did I realize I have book 3 all wrong.  It's probably going to be book 4 or 5 in the series.  Right now, book 3 is going to be something I need to answer a few puzzles unfinished in the first two books.  More battles, more danger, and of course, more romance.  Sarah is starting to find her footing and I'm pretty excited about it all.

    A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or maybe even a little bit about yourself or are they all purely fictional? 

    Well, I don't think you can be a writer without putting some of yourself in your characters.  I won't say which parts. :)  At this point, I have not put any of my friends or anyone real into my books.  But I've promised a few people that I'd add them into one of the upcoming books and let them live or die as they want.  Need folks for battles, and I'm going to let my friends get in there and defend their home-town.  Alas, that will probably be pushed into book 4.  I'm still debating.  I'll know for sure when I finish the outline.

    How did you chose the names of the characters in your book? Do they have a special meaning?

    I'm fairly careful with the names I choose.  One of the things I worry about is having names that are too close, too alike, so the reader gets the characters confused.  When I'm dealing with different heritages, I like to look up names that are appropriate, delve into the meaning of those names and use the ones that I think fit the personality of the character. 

    What do you like most about being an author? And what annoys you?

    I love when people read the things I write and really get what I'm saying.  I enjoy entertaining people, and getting them to think about the things I find interesting.  I think the only thing I find annoying is that I can't be a full-time writer.  One day, hopefully.

    Did you ever have a writer´s block? If so, what did you do to deal with it?  

    I'm rarely blocked.  I have little tricks I use, like putting on certain albums which get me right into my writer's space.  When I'm just totally blocked, and can't find my way, I'll brainstorm with a close friend, or better yet my wife.  Then, as a fail-safe, I'll go work out, make myself really tired so the voices that are blocking me are too tired to interfere. 

    sam001ol7 Tell us something about your favourites:
    Favourite authors?
    Tolkien was my first true love.  Now I'm reading Ken Scholes, Diana Rowland, S.M.Stirling, Brenda Cooper, Carrie Vaughn, Kat Richardson, Jim Butcher, Patty Briggs.  Mostly Urban Fantasy, but I'm a sucker for post-apocolypse stories.
    favourite paranormal creature? Dragons.
    favourite all time hero/heroine? Sam Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings.  He was the real hero of the series.favourite all time villain? The problem with villains is that they are either so nebulous that you never really understand them, or they get defeated in a single book, so they are overwhelmed by the next villian and the next.  I like how J. K. Rowling built Lord Voldemort into a force to be reckoned with.  Either him, or perhaps, the Black Knight in Monty Python's The Holy Grail.

    lord-of-the-rings-cover-design-3 Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader?  Definitely book.  I worked in a bookstore when I was a teenager, and I still love the smell of books -- the tactile experience will always win out for me. 
    favourite distraction? Right, Dragon Age: Origins on the XBox
    Is there a book you love above all? One that had a great influence on you or your life? The Lord of the Rings.  I've read it dozens of times.  I even read it outloud to my wife when she was pregnant with our son.  It has had a major impact on how I view literature and story.

    Was being an author something you´ve always wanted or did it just happen?

    I wanted to be a writer as soon as I read Runaway Robot by Lester Del Ray.  I started writing when I was in third grade and have never really stopped since.  I've always known I'd be a professional writer, I just didn't have the right path for the longest time.

    Is there any question you´ve always wanted to be asked? And if so, what would be the answer?

    I an think of two. 


    1) Q:Would you be willing to have your novel picked by Oprah for her book club (A: um, yes)

    2) Q: If you could have dinner with any other author who would you pick (A: J. K. Rowling, as long as I could bring my family)

    A question that is inspired by another interview I did with an author: If you would be Superman, what would be your cryptonite? 

    Television.  It shuts my brain off.  I'll stop talking mid-sentence if there's a television on in the room.  I really try to avoid it as much as possible.

    Stirling What are you reading at the moment/planning to read/waiting for to be released?

    S. M. Stirling just released his new book.  I'll buy it and hold it for when I finish book 3 in my series.

    And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers? 

    Thanks for giving me this chance to share a little about myself.  I hope you like the book.  Feel free to contact me through my website.  I try to answer every message sent to me.  It's just exciting and gratifying when people like my work.



    Thanks so much for doing this Interview! It was a great pleasure and honor for me and I´d be more than happy if you´d come back anytime soon!

    Here are a few useful links:

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Guest Post & Review: Fat Vampire

    Hello my dear readers!
    Once again I´m proud to announce that I´m having another incredibly talented and simply awesome blogger friend of mine over to do a guest post. It´s the wonderful Savannah from Books with Bite!

    Meet Savannah!


    She´ll be doing a review about Adam Rex´s “Fat Vampire”, a book I hadn´t heard about before but whose cover I instantly loved. But let´s listen to Savy what she has to say about the book! 

    Fat Vampire Title: Fat Vampire
    Author: Adam Rex
    Publisher: Blazer + Bray
    Release Date: July 27, 2010
    Books: Bought
    "Doug Lee is undead quite by accident—attacked by a desperate vampire, he finds himself cursed with being fat and fifteen forever. When he has no luck finding some goth chick with a vampire fetish, he resorts to sucking the blood of cows under cover of the night. But it’s just not the same.
    Then he meets the new Indian exchange student and falls for her—hard. Yeah, he wants to bite her, but he also wants to prove himself to her. But like the laws of life, love, and high school, the laws of vampire existence are complicated—it’s not as easy as studying Dracula. Especially when the star of Vampire Hunters is hot on your trail in an attempt to boost ratings.…"
    I choose this book to read and review for being a part of Reading on the Dark Side Urban MANtasty. During this month, Christine from Reading in the Dark side hosted this in order to support and get out the word on reading more books by male authors. Thank you Christine for letting me be a part in this! For more information on Urban MANtasty please visit her site. Thanks!

    This book was interesting and hilarious. I love how it was written, from a male point of view, which you don't see much. Also it was written by a male author.
    I knew from the moment I layed eyes on this book that I would enjoy it immensely and that I did. Right from the beginning, you were thrown into this geeky, fat boys world of trying to make it as a fat vampire. I felt for him during his hardships. He struggle in feeding, as well in other areas.
    I was glad to see he go help through a mentor. Through this he was able to learn more and of course become a better vampire. He also took a chance and finally step up to the plate, becoming the true vampire that he his. But in doing this, his ego went straight to his head and all of the sudden he was "BAD" He end up getting a girlfriend and used her badly. I was disappointed in his choice. While I was glad that he finally came who he was, he made a poor choice in it as well.
    In the end, Doug hardships paid off. He went off the find he friends attacker, dubbing him my knight and shining armor. I admit that the ending was a little confusing for me. I'm still not sure what to make of it.
    Mr. Rex, did a great job writing this. The plot, drama and suspense was written perfect. I enjoyed reading each and every page of it. Mr. Rex did a great job capturing the voice of a real teenage boy. I was happy as a reader to get a good insight on the character. Doug was not your typical teenage boy and for that I was grateful to see someone who was not popular, or cute from the start.
    I give it 5 BITES!
    Happy Reading!

    Thank you so much Savannah! I loved to read your thoughts and I really hope we can do soemthing together sometime soon!

    Monday, September 20, 2010


    Tori over at the Book Fairy has done a post today that has moved me on so many levels. First of all, once gain, thank you so much for sharing!

    Reason for the post is this article. I strongly suggest reading it before you read my post.

    As a woman, this article has left me speechless, but in the worst kind of way. Thankfully, here in Germany sexual education  as well as literature containing and referring to sex is handled much more liberally. Sometime during 7th grade, we even had someon from the local health authority over to talk about –how shocking Mr. Scroggins!- sex, safer sex, pregnancy and STDs. Hell, we even got a free condom and an eraser on which said “Hand in Hand against AIDS”. I guess I was just lucky that I grew up in both a very tolerant and liberal country (where homosexuals are allowed to marry. Hell, our  foreign minister and vice chancellor has married his boyfriend just this weekend!) and also a very open-minded family. So things like that just make me, well speechless.

    In his article Mr Scroggins makes this shocking revelation: “children at the middle school are being introduced to concepts such as homosexuality, oral sex, anal sex and specific instructions on how to use a condom and have sex”. It even gets worse: “Sex education curriculum in the fourth grade includes topics on reproduction.” He then asks, if this is what taxpayers want their childern exposed to? And if taxpayers want their money to be used for that.

    For what exactly? To tell girls and boys who are in a relationship how to protect themselves against getting a STD? To show girls that it is totally okay to ask a boy to use a condom while having sex? To try to help teenagers develope an healthy view of everything concerning sex? To help raise them as tolerant, responsible and self-aware adults? If I were a parent, I would say hell yes! We live in modern times, where out-dated and - I´m sorry- conservative opinions like that simply show that someone has no idea what is really going on.

    He also uses his article to speak ill of a book called “Speak” and pretty much asks parents to forbid their children to read it. Well, what can I say, I consider myself a tolerant person, so if someone doesn´t want to read it, sure. But don´t be so arrogant as to make decisions for others. Part of grwong up is actually to deal with things like sexuality. There´s no way around it. Everyone, even teenagers should be allow to make such decisions as to what they want to read for themselves.

    And if Mr. Scroggins really thinks removing all this from the education curriculum, I´m suggesting he should better think twice. There are indeed worse sources teenagers could use to make up their mind about sex (easily accessible hard core porn on the internet, anyone?) Now that is something that can seriously contort the veiw of sexuality. But I digress.

    As for the use of profane language including the infamous “f-word”, well, shut the fuck up, get your fucking ass out there and open your fucking eyes: there´s no fucking way to avoid that.

    The article is simply irgnorant beyond imagination. He wants to remove sexual education from the education curriculum? I guess he should just as well ban modern pop, rock, R´n´B and rap music, a serious amout of books out there and while he´s at it abolish the freedome of speech and the voting rights for women. Okay, that was not really productive, but well, I´m furious.

    Wake up, Mr. Scroggins! Seriously.

    Interview: Ilona Andrews

    Okay, major squee! My week couldn´t start any better than this! Today, I´m having my most favorite authors EVER over for an interview, the amazing husband and wife team wrinting under the pen name Ilona Andrews.

    Ilona Andrews

    I was so nervous about this interview, I felt like a teenage girl standing right in front of Robert Pattinson (or so I thought). Yep, I´m a fangirl who is stalinkg them through their hilarious, funny and witty blog. And now, even though crazy busy with writing and the release of their new book, Bayou Moon, they decided to answer some of my questions. Please give it up for Ilona Andrews!

    BAYOU-MOON1 In a few days, “Bayou Moon”, the second book in your “The Edge” series is being released. Can you tell in your own words what we can expect?

    Expect a grittier less fairy tale book. Expect more regret and less happily ever after.

    After reading On The Edge, I couldn´t picture William as hero of your next book. Could you tell me why I´m wrong?

    I prefer William to Declan. William to me is more real, he was not born a noble, but does he tries to do the right thing. He is honest and brave, he is a killer but not cruel, he is sometimes childlike but not an innocent. This book is the story of how he becomes the hero.

    What´s your favorite scene in Bayou Moon?

    Probably the boat ride into the mire or the courtroom scene. (This is torture… I want to know what they are talking about!!!!)

    Is it true that Bayou Moon is the last book in The Edge series or can we hope for more?

    No, we are contracted for at least two more Edge books after Bayou Moon. (Thank god!)

    If you could chose, which world would you prefer to live in? The Atlanta of Kate Daniels or The Edge/The Weird/The Broken?

    I would live in the Edge, I feel like it is a place I would belong. Ilona would live in the Weird as she is more of a fantasy magic type person.

    Your two series are quite different from each other. Is anyone of them easier to write?

    If anything I would say that for now the Edge is easier simply because there is so much history already in Kate, and we have to be consistent with the characters and time-line. Plus we try to make every book better than the last and often feel that we epically fail at that.

    You´ve been writing about Kate Daniels, Curran and all the usual suspects from Atlanta for quite a few years now. Would you say that the characters can still surprise you?

    No not really, cause we sort of make up what they say and do. Some authors talk about like arguing with their characters and I always sort of shake my head. We are not that cool.

    You two write as a team. How does that work? Who does which work? Are there some things you can´t decide on while writing?  And if so, how do you resolve those situations?

    This questions is asked over and over in almost every interview we give.  :)  Writing a book together is a lot like being married; it's a journey of compromise, loud declarative statements, and very much tea.  It's difficult to break this process down into specifics, because we really do work together, from hammering out plot points to selecting the right word to describe someone's roar. But we don't really fight about it.

    How far ahead are you planning your books? Do you already have an idea where the following Magic books are headed?

    We are totally behind on pretty much everything. We have no idea really what will happen until we sit down and hash it out. I wish sometimes we had the sort of characters that would tell us what comes next or what they want to do. We are however, open to suggestions.

    My love for Urban Fantasy honestly started with Magic Bites. Would you say that there is one book that started you love for the Fantasy genre?

    It is hard to look back and say there was one book that really did it. Robert E. Howard was huge for me growing up. I also very much enjoyed the Dragon Lance books.

    MAGIC-BLEEDS In Magic Bleeds, Kate gets herself a very special pet. How did you come up with that idea?

    Some Grendal came from Luka Brasi, my big dumb Mastiff, and part from the fact that Ilona really likes poodles and thinks they get a bum rap for being fru fru dogs.

    Kate and Curran´s rocky and fragile relationship has taken us readers on quite a ride. They´ve finally found each other. Is it going to be Happily Ever After for them from now on? Can you share a little teaser?

    Yes, I think that they will stay together, but like a real relationship they will have both good and bad times. Not sure about a teaser, I mean they don't break up in Kate 5. I am working on a short story where they go up to the mountains to get away from the pack after Magic Bleeds.

    Ilona, you´re a native born Russian. Would you say that your Russian heritage influences your writing?

    Yes of course it influences my writing. I grew up reading Russian fairy tales and folk stories.

    If you could work together with any other author, which one would it be?

    For me it would have been either David Gemmell or Robert B. Parker, but sadly they have both passed. For Ilona it would be Meljean Brooks. She is great and we would love to work together with her on something.

    Would you say that your mood has an influence on your writing in general and the story in particular?

    Sure, I think how you're feeling comes through in what you write. I listen to music to help set the mood, Ilona will usually read or watch something.

    In retrospect, would you change anything about your writing and writing career?

    I think we would re-write Magic Bites. Other than that, not really. We are what we are and we write what we like. We have been very lucky that we have great fans that support us.

    Where do you get your inspiration from? Music, books, TV shows or real life?

    We are huge fans of comics, cartoons, manga, anime. We draw a lot of inspiration from those things as we both tend to be sort of visual. Also cheesy martial arts movies, love those. Also computer games, we play and have fun geeking out with all that stuff. I think tv is really more of an escape or time out than inspiration. Hoarders and Intervention help us feel less screwed up.

    A question that I am always curious about (but could be kind of personal) is: are your characters based on people you really know or maybe even a little bit about yourself or are they all purely fictional?

    Good question. Actually a lot of the characters are at least somewhat based on people we have known. In high school my best friend was Deric Gant, upon whom Derek Gaunt the teen-age werewolf is based. Ted Monohan is also somewhat modelled on my Uncle, who was in law enforcement and grew up in Texas. Julie is a bit like our oldest daughter. I think for Ilona, Kate is a bit like her, and for me William has some similar traits or background.

    On your blog, you once posted a hilarious story about a fake rock someone sent you. Was that the weirdest thing you´ve ever gotten? Or are other gift from fans that sometimes make you wonder?

    Yeah, the fake rock takes the cake. We have gotten some gifts from fans, but we strongly discourage the sending of goodies. But thank you James for the cool stuff.

    Tell us something about your favourites:
    Favourite authors?
    Charlaine Harris, Jeanine Frost, Nalini Singh, M. Marr, Cormac McCarthy, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, Meljean Brooks, Leigh Brackett, Terry Pratchet.
    favourite paranormal creature? Werewolves,
    favourite all time hero/heroine? Captain Blood, Flash Gordon, Margaret Landor (from marriage most scandalous) and Sookie Stackhouse.
    favourite all time villain? Alan Rickman as the Sherriff in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
    Which one do you prefer, book or e-reader? E-reader for Ilona, graphic novel for me.
    favourite distraction? knitting and messing with my iTunes.

    Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land_Cover Three Comrades Is there a book you love above all? One that had a great influence on you or your life?

    Probably Stranger in a Strange Land for me, and The Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remaque for Ilona.

    On your homepage, you state that you never wanted to be a writer (which is quite unusual for writers). After all the success of your books and all you´ve been through, would you still prefer to be a scientist? 

    Ilona says it would depend on how much she would get paid. (I guess I´m speaking for all fans if I say please please not!!! Scientists are boring in comparision to the awesomeness of you books and wrinting!)

    Is there any question you´ve always wanted to be asked? And if so, what would be the answer?

    Yes, it would have to be "Dear Ilona and Gordon, on behalf of the British government how would you and your family like to come and live in the United Kingdom?" Hell Yeah!

    A question that is inspired by another interview I did with an author: If you would be Superman, what would be your kryptonite?
    iTunes and yarn, that is where all the money goes.

    Iron Duke What are you reading at the moment/planning to read/waiting for to be released?

    Waiting for Meljean Brooks' Iron Duke and reading From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris.

    And just for the heck of it: as someone who lives with three cats, a dog and two rabbits, how do you deal with the daily madness of having pets? How do you stop your dog from chasing after everything that is moving faster than the average human? Any advice?

    We have one cat but with the dogs we try to train them well and spend a lot of time with them. They are a lot of work but they also love you unconditionally (the dogs I mean, cat seems to simply tolerate our presence). Advice? Give them lots of love, get them spayed or neutered, and treats seem to work for us. (Spending countless hours petting them, trying to ignore the fact the the cats always sneak into my bed and giving all of them their favorite food also seems to help by the way!)

    And finally: Is there anything you want to say to your/my readers?

    Thanks for reading the interview, hope you like the books if you have read them and if not we hope you will give them a chance.

    I can only second that. In Urban Fantasy, there is hardly anything that is better than Their Kate Daniels series and as for The Edge series you won´t be disappointed as well! Go and check out their fantastic website and blog, it´s always worth stopping by. Thank you so much for all the awesome teasers! And don´t forget: Bayou Moon is coming on September 28th!

    Thank you so much for doing this interview here! It´s been a real pleasure and honor for me! Please come back anytime you want!

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Review: “Dante´s Journey”

    dantejourneyfrontcover Title: Dante´s Journey

    Author: JC Marino

    Genre: Urban Fantasy

    Published:  February 22nd 2010 by Star Publish

    goodreads blurb:

    A flash of light and Detective Joe Dante steps through. No longer on the cobblestone streets of 1961 Boston, Joe finds himself in a horrifying new world-Hell itself. Joe was in hot pursuit of his family's killer, drug lord Filippo Argenti, when both were killed, and isn't about to let a little thing like death slow him down. So, with a healthy dose of New England stubbornness and the help of a mysterious guide, Virgil DiMini, Joe must evade angry demons, and search ever-lower through the rings of the original Dante's Inferno in hopes of finding justice for his wife and children. However, Joe will soon discover that behind every sin lies a secret and each secret revealed could land Joe in an eternity of hot water... VERY hot.”´

    Dante´s Journey is based on the famous Inferno by Dante Alighieri which I haven´t read to be honest. I know however basically what it is about.

    Each chapter of this book represents another circle of hell with a sin and the respective punishment. Every once in a while, there are chapters called thoughts of home which are a flashback to Joe´s previous life.

    I have to say, JC Marino does a great job to write a modern version of the classic. As in the original poem the story is told by Joe Dante, Boston cop, whose life after the death of his family is exclusive focused on avenging their death and destroying the person he deems resposible, Filipo Argenti.

    This book starts with a kind of mystery. After a flash of white light in Boston in the 60s, Joe Dante finds himself in totally unknown surroundings with no clue how he got there. After he follows a strange trail of footsteps, he soon he gets to know a relative young guy called Virgil who claims to be his guide and tells him that he is dead and in hell. Surprisingly, Virgil seems to know more about Dante than possible. So, with the strange and dubious Virgil on his side, he starts his way through hell.

    Joe Dante is definetly stubborn. Sometimes annoyingly so, but I guess that only means that JC has done a great job of making his character believable and realistic. His love for his family and the guilt he feels about his death has not only destoyed him and his career but also his faith. When he finally confronts his arch nemesis and wants to kill him, said white light appears and changes everything. Well, maybe not his stubbornness. Even though there is no other logical explanation for what Dante sees and experiences in hell, he still doesn´t want to acknowledge that he might really be dead and in hell.

    The pacing of the story is sometimes breathtakingly high, especially whenever one of the numerous demons appear, sometimes it allows you to actually think for yourself about the imagery used in the book. There are many turns regarding the death of his family and the mystery of how Joe Dante ended up in hell is solved very late in the book, so there is hardly a dull moment.

    Through his language, some of his character traits and beliefs, Joe Dante is definetly a man from his era. Just as credibly as Joe are all the other people he meets from the different periods of time. JC Marino has done and incredible job of bringing them to life by the way they act and talk. Espacially the slangs are really well done. I also enjoy the running gag about the Boston Red Sox and their notorious curse (yes, even I here in Germany have heard about it!)

    Dante´s Journey is a book about a journey, both in the literal and in the figurative sense. It´s also a book about sins, punishment, belief, faith and ultimately forgiveness. It´s great to see how Dante´s character evolves throughout the book.

    So, all in all, for all of you who want to read something different for a change, a book with a little more depth, that stands out among the mass of Urban Fantasy titles because of the re-imagination of a classic and ,the great character design, go on and read it. It will be definetly worth your time. In an interview with the author, I found out that it took JC Marino ten years to finish this book. But after reading it, I can tell you that he has done one hell of a job in this ten years.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Guest Post: Lily´s review of Blood Vice

    Now, I hand over my blog to the awesome Lily from Lilium´s Realm.

      HI Lily! *waves*

    First I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Christine for allowing me to blog over here today - I feel honored. If you twitter and follow me you know I have a long standing rival with one Keith Melton. I can't really trace back to where I met him, but I will say he is a trip and a half. I have been giving him a hard time for almost a year now and I finally just read his book Blood Vice. I bought it and TBR'd it based of the "WARNING" in the book - which stole my heart

    keith_melton-Blood_vice "Warning: Intense, graphic mafia-related violence, profanity, gangster slang, assassinations, fang punctures, explicit vampire sex, betrayal, greed, murder, gangland warfare, pervasive supernatural mayhem, large-scale explosions, and extremely expensive Italian suits."

    *raised eyebrow* See what I mean?

    I have not really read very much Urban Fantasy or even Paranormal Romance that is written by men. Not that I choose to avoid them.....there just doesn't seem to be that many out there. Keith Melton is one of those men. I was wary about the book because I knew the author (well as well as you can know anyone 140 charachters at a shot) but I was nervous about reading the book - because what if it sucked? And not in the good vampire way neither. Rest assured - it didn't suck - in the bad way.

    We are introduced to a Master Vampire named Karl Vance, who has sworn for the rest of his lifetime to never feed off innocents. Karl is your traditional vampire, he can't do the Holy objects, he can only come out at night, him and silver don't mix and he has to have someone look after his coffin while he's sleeping. Aside from these things, he is a hitman. An excellent one at that. Karl is employed by the Ricardi family to help take over Boston and reign over all - including the Lucatti family.

    Maria Ricardi is your typical Mafia princess, if you count the fact that she wants to play with the big boys. Tired of only being seen as Daddy's Girl who cleans the money she is determined to climb the family ladder and prove herself as a Mafiso. She has her father hire Karl on full time to get the job of taking Boston from the Luccattis done. Things are strange about Karl - he won't call her back till after sunset, he walks so quietly she can never hear him approach her and there is just something so dark, dangerous and sexy about him. Fighting for her respect in the family Maria becomes convinced that if she can watch someone get killed, so she can learn to do herself she will be the son her father lost. How wrong she is when it becomes apparent Karl is not what he seems and the enforcer working with the Luccatti family is more than your average rival. After the harrowing introduction to what Karl really is:

    He smiled but there was nothing nice about it. "Why were you there tonight?"

    "You work for me. Don't make me say it again."

    His smile widened - became predatory...almost...anticipatory? And that sent waves of cold washing down her skin from head to foot.

    "You're trying my patience. You should remember you have far more to lose than I."

    Damn him. "I was curious."

    "About what? About me?"

    "I wanted to watch someone die."

    He thought about it a moment. "Fair enough. Some urges are not pretty."

    Make no mistake, this is not the vampire to cuddle with and take long walks on the beach, he is a monster - but he has a strong moral code. Karl did not choose his life and does his best to help The Order of the Thorn - a religious group out to kill ALL monsters of the night. As twists and turns become more and more convoluted in the plot line it becomes clear that some grudges last more than one lifetime, and sometimes, blood doesn't make you family. This book was very well written and well researched in my opinion. He mentions a lot of weapons in this book and I have to say - he did his homework. I was left hanging at the end of Blood Vice and I have already been harassing him for book two. Hats off to Keith Melton for this one.