Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: Touch of Power by Maria Snyder

In this new yet-to-release series by Maria Snyder, of Poison Studies fame, we explore a world that has turned against healers. I've enjoyed all her other books so far - they have strong, principled heroines, who end up key to the battle between good vs. evil.
Publication Date: 27th December, 2011

The Story:  A terrible plague has wiped out large swathes of peoples across the country, and the kingdom has dissolved into several weakened states. Each healer who tried healing a plague carrier died in turn of the plague. With only 100 healers or so in the guild, the Healers Guild proclaimed that they would not heal the plague carriers, and instead tried to find the cure. However, this proclamation resulted in massive anti-healer sentiment, and began a wide scale persecution of the healers. Now only one healer remains - Avry.

Avry has been on the run, but now must choose sides in the war for the weakened states. The power plays between the various contending factions mean that a healer is a valuable piece on the board, and Avry's choice plays a key factor in which faction might eventually triumph.

Plus:Avry and other characters are really interesting to read, and their motivations unveil gradually as the plot develops. I'm keen to read more about them, if there are other books planned. She keeps her secrets to herself, which is a nice refreshing change from heroines that blurt them out to the first hero that comes along!

Minus:  I'm seeing a lot of fantasy that has pages and pages dedicated to travel, travel rations and the countryside - it seems to be a staple of the genre, but I'd like to see something creative here!
Overall: A solid, engrossing tale.
You can read an earlier review of Maria Snyder's Storm Glass here

Thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing the review copy.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guest Post: Jeremy Robinson and Kindle Giveaway

Welcome to Jeremy Robinson’s Great Kindle Giveaway and Blog Tour.

“Hurray for free Kindles!” you say, but who the hell is Jeremy Robinson? Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the author of eleven mixed genre novels, published in ten languages, including the popular fantasy YA series, THE LAST HUNTER, and the fast-paced Jack Sigler series (also known as Chess Team—not nearly as nerdy as it sounds), PULSE, INSTINCT and THRESHOLD from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. I’m the co-author of an expanding series  of novellas deemed the Chesspocalypse, which take place in the Chess Team universe. If that doesn’t wet your whistle, I’m also known as Jeremy Bishop, the #1 horror author of THE SENTINEL and the controversial novel, TORMENT. For more about me, or my books, visit

I have watched for years as my fellow authors held online events called blog tours. Some would visit ten blogs. Others, as many as ninety. And every day they would bring something different, waxing eloquent about a multitude of topics. When I finally decided to have a blog tour of my own, and settled on doing each and every weekday in October, my first thought was, “This will be cool,” which was immediately followed up by, “Holy crap, I can’t think of something interesting to say twenty times in one month!” I can barely think of something worthwhile for my own blog just once a month. The solution is what follows; each blog participating in the tour could ask me ANY three questions. That means, if the subject matter bores you, I’m not to blame! Huzzah!

But fear not. There are other rewards for sloughing through the questions and answers. I’ll be giving away two Kindles to two randomly selected readers who sign up for my newsletter. Details on the giveaway can be found below. On to the Q&A!

1. What were your favorite memories of writing your latest book?

The last novel I wrote was THE SENTINEL under the Jeremy Bishop pen name. In general, my favorite moments of any novels are those that get a reaction out of me while I’m writing, whether that be squirming in disgust, feeling angry, crying, or laughing out loud. Those are the scenes I know are going to be good, and they’re usually the ones I hear about. In THE SENTINEL there were a lot of laugh out loud moments because the books was written in first person and the main character, Jane Harper, is sarcastic. But the best moment in the book, for me, made me squirm. I don’t want to give the details of the scene away, but there is a moment when the…loose veil hiding the awful truth is torn away—physically. That’s incredibly vague, but I’d love to hear from readers who think they’ve found it.

2. You took a bold step, going at the entire publishing route on your own - did you have someone who mentored you through this process? Did it feel like a risk?

Learning how to self-publish, and self-publish right has been a long learning process. But it’s not unfamiliar to me. I first self-published in 2005, before e-books were on anyone’s radar. That first book sold very well and I started a small press, Breakneck Books, which has morphed into Breakneck Media. I changed the name because I now produce print books, e-books, audiobooks, iPhone apps and iPhone games. I became a “mainstream author” in 2009 when I signed a three book deal with Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, and have since signed on for another two books. So I’ve got my greedy hands in both cookie jars right now, having one hardcover novel published every year and putting out a slew of self-published books as well.

As for the learning process, it’s trial and error. My first cover was good, but not great. My first books were riddled with typos. I now hire an editor. I’ve learned to keep my standards really high to ensure that the books I’m producing are indistinguishable from the big publishers. But the publishing landscape is changing fast and I’m finding myself having to adapt constantly. I’m never not learning something new, whether it is cover design techniques (I do most of my covers), e-book format, online marketing and even storytelling. So, I really went it alone. And I actually recommend that. What works for one author might not work for another. Each author has to discover their own techniques, their own niche, audience and voice. Experience trumps “schooling” any day.


Hope that was as good for you as it was for me. Now how about that kindle giveaway?

Here’s the deal: to be entered to win one of two free kindles all you have to do is visit my website——and sign up for the newsletter. That’s it. The first kindle will go to a randomly chosen newsletter signup on October 31. For the second kindle, there’s a catch. The second giveaway will only be triggered if one of my kindle books hits the bestseller list (top 100). So pick up some books (most are just $2.99 a pop) and spread the word! If one of the books squeaks up to #100 for just a single hour, the second kindle will be given away to another randomly chosen newsletter sign up on October 31.

*When you sign up for the newsletter, be sure to include the name of the blog that referred you in the field provided. I’ll be giving away two $50 gift certificates to the blog that refers the most sign-ups and another to the blog who referred the first kindle winner.

** I will announce winners via Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and newsletter (which you will be signed up for!) but I’ll also e-mail the winners directly—I’ll need to know where to ship those kindles!

Thanks for spending some time with me today. Hope you enjoyed the Q&A, and good luck with the kindle giveaway!

-- Jeremy Robinson
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Alpha & Omega 02 by Patricia Briggs

I'm in a re-read mood now, and this will always make me turn to the best Urban Fantasy authors out there - Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison and others.
This teaser is from Patricia Briggs' fantastic Alpha & Omega books (werewolf), Book 2 - Hunting Ground:
"What would it feel like to love music as she did and not be able to sing or play? Or worse, to be proficient but never cross the line between a collection of notes and pitch and rhythm to real music?
To know that you were missing it by just a hair but have no idea how to take it from metronome correctness to power and true beauty."
- said by Anna, the rare Omega wolf.
Mini Review:
I love Patricia Briggs! I hope you pick up one of her books - the Mercy series is intriguing with a strong female lead, she has some interesting couplet books (2 books per series) titled Hurog something, Raven know how the naming convention works in sequels, right?
These Alpha & Omega books narrowly overlaps the Mercy series, you will see some familiar characters in greater depth. Solid action-packed sequences, and character-building of a rape victim and more! Come read.

To join into the TT fun, visit the link below!
Teaser Tuesdays
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Giveaway - Win Two Kindles!

The author Jeremy Robinson will be writing a guest post on this blog in two days, as part of his October blog tour.
If you sign up for the newsletter, you get a chance to win one of two brand new kindles!
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: Terry Pratchett's Snuff - Discworld #39

Genre: Satire, Fantasy, Police/Detective work

Grade: A+ (gold standard)
Why I picked it up: Because Pratchett is a god of writing and I will blindly read anything he writes, anticipating some daft comedy.

The Story: Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel features Sam Vimes forced to visit the family countryside Manor by his wife. Out of his comfort zone of the streets of Ankh Morpork, Vimes sets out to explore the pastoral village with his son, 6 year old Young Sam. 
 Taking the hero into a new location and having a murder happen is a tried and tested plot device (think Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers). This is even better here in Discworld, as the location is just like pastoral England, but with Goblins! He gets mixed up with local magistrates, a one-man constabulary - and wins the day after a chase across caves, land and a wild river; what fun!

I loved the tongue-in-cheek reference to Jane Austen that was sneaked into Sam's meetings with the local populace.
(Read and find out!) 
I'd recommend this to:  Everyone!
Please remember, you can read this series out of order - don't be intimidated by the sheer number of books in Discworld!
Digital galley received courtesy of NetGalley & Harper Collins Publishers. 
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Where do you go for reading suggestions and inspiration?

Just as writers are familiar with writer's block, all readers go through dry periods of no reading  - does this sound familiar to you?

When your favorite author's books are all read, when a long fantasy series is completed, when your library just seems to far away to go to, or when you don't have that ONE great book to read, what do you do?
Do you put away reading for a while and turn to something else; focus on work or a hobby for that evening or week, maybe?

I end up randomly browsing news sites, or Amazon, looking for new authors or books. Still, I've recently found NetGalley to be a fount of inspiration! Just that thrill of reading books prior to their release is enough to get me started up again.
Another good source of recommendations and ideas are the lists at GoodReads, usually if you pick a genre, you are bound to get author suggestions. LibraryThing also works for a lot of people. And of course, the tried and true method of asking a friend IRL!
Where do YOU go for that reading itch?
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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Top 10 books lost to TIme

The Smithsonian Mag has an interesting article on the Top 10 books that have been lost over the years - including several books that formed part of the Bible.
The list also includes the "holy grail" of Shakespeare lovers - his missing play Cardenia.
Read at the source below for the entire list:
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