Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guest Star Diva Author: Gena Showalter

As I promised you peeps, I have the glamorous and fabulous Gena Showalter to talk about her awesome series "The Alien Huntress" and its newest installment "Seduce the Darkness". Without further ado, here are her answers to a very short interrogation:

1. Okay, so Gena. I have to tell you your new novel “Seduce the Darkness” fooled me into believing that it was an installment in your Dark Lord series. Shame on you for fooling me with that cover art. Though, in all earnest it is a wonderful, smoldering addition to the Alien Huntress Hall of Cover Art. This is kind of an off-key question, but did you have anything to do with the change in style for the Alien Huntress series? I ask this because I am pretty sure that judging by your Beefcake Monday post, you are quite partial to half naked men.

I do love half naked men, there’s no denying that, but I actually have very little say in my covers. The publisher designs and creates them. But I have to say, I adore the cover for Seduce the Darkness. It’s one of my favorites. Maybe because Devyn, the hero, is one of the sexiest men I’ve ever written about and just thinking about him makes me shiver. He is a modern day king who can control people with his mind. He’s a blatant womanizer and yeah, a little narcissistic. He even enjoys killing his enemies. Bride, the heroine, is a vampire who has never met another of her kind and oh, watching her bring Devyn to his kines . . . shivering again.

2. To all those uneducated in the many series you write, which by the way I think you accomplish by cloning yourself, can you deliver the gist of the Alien Huntress series?

Set in the near future, an elite group of agents patrol the streets of New Chicago to protect citizens from predatory monsters. However, with my last alien hunter book, we took the series in a brand new direction. The books are now written in third person and are paranormal romances, meaning the romance is the primary focus of the book.

3. “Seduce me Slowly” made my week after I read it and I think scored the adoration of your fans, but it also had some recurring characters such as Mia Snow from Book One. How loose and untied to previous installments is “Seduce the Darkness” going to be?

Seduce the Darkness is completely standalone. You don’t have to read any of the other books to understand it. However, there are guest appearances by characters from the other books.

4. Okay, so from the blurb I get two things. Number 1, we have an alien royalty. Good. This passes since it is a series about aliens. Number 2, we have a vampire and here comes the ‘what the…’ moment. In this Twilight Zone for genres, how did you think of the idea to mix vampires with aliens? Sounds even crazier than scientology.

I played the “what if” game. What if vampires are really aliens? What if aliens are just like us, only with different abilities? And with Seduce the Darkness specifically, it was: What if there was only one vampire left on the planet? What if a man used to getting everything he wants can’t have the woman he is falling in love with?

5. The next most natural question that actually has something to do with the writing is: Was it hard to write vampires, most typically known for the paranormal scenarios, in a world ruled by aliens and technology?

It was actually a perfect fit for me. The vampires became an extension of the alien community – because, after all, I think of the aliens as a term to describe people with abilities that set them apart -- and the technology was something to play with.

6. And also did you fear it might be too much out of everything? Apparently not, since the book is to be released and all, but I am speaking about early doubts during the drafts and such. Plus we all know you can write yourself out of every entangled idea.

I LOVED writing this book and could hardly wait to get to it every morning. Devyn and Bride absolutely delighted me, their banter leaving me sighing dreamily.

7. From your promotion and blurbs and everything, I get the sense that “Seduce the Darkness” will be smoldering. Can you give us a juicy, yet vague, teaser that will cement our hopes for something carnal?

Absolutely. Here’s a snippet from their first meeting:

“Well, well. Aren’t you a pretty thing?” the man said, offering her a hand. That voice. . . deep and raspy and just roused from bed, as perfect as his face and body.
As people buzzed beside them -- the females staring at him in open-mouthed wonder, the males giving him a wide berth -- Bride tentatively accepted his aid. His warm fingers curled around her wrist, and he easily hefted her up.
When she gained her bearings, she realized he’d tugged her forward so that they were only a few inches apart. He did not release her hand. Her smaller height placed her gaze right at the steady pulse in his neck, and her mouth once again watered.
Concentrate. Bride raised her chin and forced herself to look him in the eye. “You smell like my friend Aleaha Love. Do you know her?” Wait. What if she’d changed her name? He could have been with her and not even known it.
“I smell like a woman, hmm?”
At least he didn’t sound insulted. Merely amused. “Yes.”
“Well, you smell like sex.” He leaned down as if he intended to share a secret with her, moonlight caressing him as though it couldn’t help itself. Maybe it couldn’t. “The dirtiest kind of sex, at that. Which just happens to be my favorite.” His thumb traced her palm.
A shiver slid the length of her spine. He was flirting with her, and wickedly so. Though she had no desire to flirt back – really -- she forced herself to say, “Wow. Already we have something in common.” One thing she knew about men. They were more likely to help a woman if they thought they’d get something in return. “That’s my favorite kind, too.”
That put a surprised sparkle in his amber eyes. “Isn’t this just my lucky day, then?”
“You never answered my question. Do you know Aleaha Love?”
“I know many women, but their names escape me right now. I so want to solve this mystery and become your hero. Perhaps your friend and I use the same perfume.”
“She doesn’t wear perfume and I doubt you do, either.” Even though so much time had passed since Bride had seen Aleaha, she knew her friend would never douse herself in any kind of body spray. Aleaha had to be as desperate to find Bride as Bride was to find Aleaha. She couldn’t believe otherwise. Aleaha was the one person who would never have walked away from her willingly. They’d become family, relied on each other.
“Perhaps, then, it’s a coincidence that we smell the same.”
“Perhaps.” Her shoulders slumped. He could very well be a shape-shifter like Aleaha, and all shape-shifters could very well produce the same fragrance.
“I didn’t expect you to agree. Darling, coincidences don’t just happen. We need to put our heads together and think up some kind of explanation for this extraordinary occurrence. I do my best thinking in bed. You?”
She laughed; she just couldn’t help herself. The man was incorrigible. “Another thing we have in common. Thinking in bed. Alone.” Letting him assume a little some-some was possible was one thing. Outright agreeing to it was another.
“Alone.” He tsked under his tongue. “Now that’s just silly.”

8. This isn’t like an obligatory question, but just for the kick: How awesome was this interviewer? [Casual Hint: Awesome, Awesome-r and As Awesome as Gena]

Here’s the scale I usually use: Liked it, loved it, wanted to marry it. I’m leaning toward that last one.

So there you have it people, Gena is as sizzling as ever and we are planing a late August wedding. Awesome right. Now stay tuned for my follow-up review of "Seduce the Darkness".

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Evil Ways" by Justin Gustainis

Title: "Evil Ways"
Author: Justin Gustainis
Series: Quincey Morris Investigation Series, Book2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 336
Publisher: Solaris

Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain investigate a series of murders where white witches are being hunted down and killed—and Libby may be next on the list. Meanwhile, the FBI is stymied by a series of child murders around the country, in which the victims' organs are being removed for use in occult rituals. Quincey and Libby don't want to get involved, but they may have no choice. From Iraq to Idaho, the trail of clues leads straight to Walter Grobius, a crazed billionaire who plans the biggest black magic ritual of all time. If he isn't stopped, all Hell will break loose—for real.

Verdict: It took me quite awhile to get to this novel and considering how many positive reviews it gathered, I think I ended up reading the novel wrong, because at large “Evil Ways” didn’t exactly work for me. Perhaps I am on a different vibe right about now or perhaps my tastes have changed in the stretch of a year, but after reading and loving “Black Magic Woman” I waited for something bigger and better as the perfect scenario for a series should be.

Plot-wise I got everything I needed. Compared to the first book in the series “Evil Ways” excels in dynamics and stretches through the better part of the USA and even offers some scenes of heist action in Baghdad. The use of magic is extensive and ranges from summoning to blood sacrifices, wards and astral projection. The variety and degree of explanation behind each act is satisfying for me as a fan of the occult and creates a solid believability. Satan also makes a very gruesome cameo appearance, which always acts as a plus and sex just lounges in between the pages. Gustainis also gives the readers every man’s dream: a woman wielding big guns with the intention of using them.

So what was the problem, if everything so far is all I could ever dream of? Gustainis has wonderful ideas and has woven them into a believable enough plot, but what doesn’t work for me in this installment is the actual writing. Spreading the story through different points of view is great and we can see what happens on both sides of the whole apocalypse-in-the-making, but the stark in-your-face approach to representing the impending doom fails to build tension. In “Black Magic Woman” I loved, when the author didn’t beat around the bush and slapped the reader with the facts as they were with no poetic detours and you felt like a part of a much messed up episode of CSI. However now that the supernatural elements have been pumped up “Evil Ways” should have, at least to me, dripped dread and the book didn’t. The famous bat scene was awesome yes, but it didn’t make me fear that the characters wouldn’t get out. Same goes for the grand summoning of Satan. As the final ceremony transpired I didn’t feel any immediate danger for the character or for the world at that.

This being said, the second thing that didn’t work for me happened to be dialogue. I enjoy wise cracking as much as the next guy, but I couldn’t buy the idea that two people no matter how comfortable with each other would mock bicker, wise crack and throw punch lines and funny expressions, when Libby is being chased by enemies unknown and the apocalypse on the rise. Comic relief via dialogue is a powerful tool and the final use at the very end of the novel is just perfect, but in almost every conversation, it becomes tiring and destroys the reader’s belief in the credibility of the story.

Negative aspects aside, there are quite a few good things to complement Mister Gustainis upon, such as his bravery regarding sex. Few ever dared to throw in orgies that have demons in and incorporate bestiality moments, a scene that stunned me as a matter of fact and was one of the few moments that created a very sinister atmosphere of decadence and dread in the novel. Also the scene, where Colleen had to play it cheap hooker in order to get the info she needed for the case to move on underlines how dire the situation is, even though it’s very un-FBI thing to do.

I am also very pleased with the world building angle. Gustainis has done some very heavy research to get down the principles of magic right and authentic as much as the complex system allows such a task to be performed. You won’t notice any deviation from the previous installment in the series, just a sort of expanding what has already been established in rules and possibilities. As much as I am a fan of the Japanese “I have a nuclear power plant rivaling load of energy” I find it refreshing to see that magic through most of the novel is very hard to get going and produce immediate effects, which usually takes up a lot of work that once interrupted can result into a catastrophe of some degree.

As a whole, “Evil Ways” is a good concept with an execution that didn’t manage to stir much of a reaction out of me. I am not sure I am in the capacity to recommend or warn off people as the experience as a whole was bittersweet and confusing. I still can’t make up my kind about “Evil Ways”, but there are enough reviews to show you a different perspective.

Different Opinions:
Darque Reviews
Graeme's Fantasy Reviews
Monsters and Critics
Fatally Yours
Love Vampires

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weekly Scedule: Brought to you by "Improbable Forces"

In the spirit of being organized, which overcomes me ever so rarely, I felt inspired to reinvent my blogging style for the month of July featuring a regular weekly schedule with what is to be featured during the week, much like the lovely Book Smugglers have been doing for quite a while. Their amazingly timed reading and reviewing signatures acted as a catalyst for this small scale experiment.

So here without further ado, let’s proceed with the program for week one:

Monday: I am starting with long overdue reviews of novels I should have finished ages ago, this January to be precise, like “Evil Ways” by Justin Gustainis.

Tuesday: June 30th marks my participation on Gena Showalter’s virtual book tour on promotion for her newest release “Seduce the Darkness”, novel 6 in her Alien Huntress series. Since I personally haven’t finished the novel yet, because the post delivered it at the last possible moment, I will present you with a very quick interview.

Wednesday: July 1st is dedicated to presenting my own version of the monthly releases listing, which I always wanted to copy off Robert. As tedious as it sounds I think that making up lists will provide with some new thrill, even if I try it once.

Thursday: If my calculations are correct, I would be on my way penning down my opinion of “Seduce the Darkness” and post the review.

Friday: Due to lack in organization I don’t have an artist ready to take this spotlight, so I will indulge myself in a semi-review/semi-rant on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which came to as a massive disappointment.
Saturday: I am dedicating this day to presenting my opinion on the comic book series dedicated to Wolverine’s origins and draw a parallel, because I like to see one idea get interpreted into various mediums.

Sunday: Here my organizational skills will provide you with the insightful interview of the people behind the legendary blog ~ “Fantasy Book Critic”. If you are interested to read about what it takes to keep one of the signature and most iconic representatives in a whole trend of blogging, what’s it like to further someone else’s idea and just varied opinions on literature and pop culture, this interview will provide much.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hawthorn Moon Event 2009: Gail Z. Martin Goody Bag

My time in hiatus has almost come to pass and I am more or less able to return to posting relatively on a regular basis. And what a better return post it would be than to do some promotion. I have been asked by Gail Z. Martin to help spread the word about her Hawthorn Moon 2009 event, which is to promote her upcoming December release “The Dark Lady’s Chosen”. The event sadly occurred on the 21st of June, but I haven’t been a fan of punctuality for quite awhile, so here is my late input.

First and foremost here is the official link towards the Hawthorn Moon Event over at Gail’s website. As an additional links you get a sneak peak Chapter from the book and if you are not into reading then the Audio Version stands as a free download. By the way just do you don’t wonder what all the vagueness is about and keep asking: “Well what is the fourth book about anyways, Harry? Cut with the crap.” Here is the official book blurb:

In Dark Lady’s Chosen, Jonmarc Vahanian battles a vayash moru uprising that threatens to topple the balance of power between mortals and the undead. Martris Drayke, Margolan’s Summoner-king, must find a way to win the siege of Lochlanimar and crush the traitors who threaten his crown. But the price to save his kingdom may be the lives of those he loves most—and his soul.

Artwork is still in the works with a brand new artist: Marek Okon. I have an additional treat, copy pasted from Gail’s website, but as I say it’s the sentiment that matters. This is an interview with Jonmarc Vahanian:

Now that the Truce has been broken in Dark Haven, can mortals and vayash moru coexist peacefully?

Most mortals and vayash moru want peace. There are just a handful of rogues on both sides stirring up trouble. That’s why we have to end this nonsense. Now.

You’re mobilizing an army against Malesh. Are you out for justice—or revenge?

Malesh slaughtered an entire village of mortals. He’s threatened to kill more. I took an oath to King Staden to protect all of Dark Haven’s residents—living and undead. If we can’t contain this, it’s the king’s right to bring in an army to stop Malesh. It will get really ugly if that happens. Best to put an end to this while it’s still a “family” matter.

Justice or revenge? I don’t know and I don’t care. I just want to bring that bastard down and make him pay.

What will happen in Dark Haven if the Truce is set aside?

If the Truce ends, the king’s army will occupy Dark Haven until peace is restored. And if they can’t bring peace, it’ll be like it was before the Truce, when mortals and vayash moru and vyrkin lived in fear and killed for reprisal. Gabriel’s told me about those times. I have no desire to see them return.

You’re having a rough first year as Lord of Dark Haven. Any regrets about taking the title?

None. I was probably fated to have some bloody bastard trying to kill me, no matter where I was. Just my luck, I guess. Before Malesh started playing games, we were making progress restoring Dark Haven and its lands. I’m proud of what we accomplished. There just wasn’t enough time….for any of us.

There’s a rumor that King Donelan threatened to place a huge bounty on your head if anything happened to Carina while she was under your protection. In light of recent events, does that worry you?

Only if I live through the battle.
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