Friday, September 28, 2012

A Trip “Across the Pond” ~ to England!

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North Yorkshire, England here we come! Yes, we are off and traveling… to the UK once again. With John’s family living in or very near to Skipton (an ancient market town in the North Yorkshire Dales), we usually make a trip at least once a year.

I thought I might share some of our older posts on our visits to Merry Old England so that maybe you too can take a vicarious trip. Included below are links to book reviews with pictures for each of the UK locations listed in the posts, and one post which just a travel post with some books included in it:

Also here are some pictures from our last trip – in July of 2011, which I have not posted about yet. With the pathetic excuse being that we had “the messy year from hell”.

Please enjoy!

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Ancient Castles and Churches  are everywhere. Here we have Windsor Castle, Exeter Cathedral and Skipton Castle. The last two boast Norman walls within their structure, making these buildings very very old.

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And for something even more ancient, we went hunting for (and found) some hidden standing stones – on Dartmoor. Stone circles are scattered everywhere in the UK; this circle was out in a grazing pasture. We almost did not find it.

 

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And another circle which was found by archeologists during the Victorian era in a local park. The stones were buried in the moors and then reconstructed, also on Dartmoor.

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Then there was that elusive circle near Skipton that we could not find, due to John taking a BIG scary tumble. He bumped his head, broke some ribs, and was visibly beat up and bruised all over his body!

Above is a picture of the “goose egg” on John’s forehead before it developed into a black eye. And there I am, standing on the moor among the ruins of the stone age settlement while we were searching for the stone circle – minutes before John’s tremendously loud fall on a big pile of sharp boulders. I was terrified and had visions of attempting to run, fumble, hike down difficult moors (non-locals do not easily walk on these loamy and spongy hills) while screaming for help. With an American accent, in a panic, and being totally ignored as crazy.

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We also came upon some local flora and fauna – foxglove and a rare and illusive hedgehog. John and I were ecstatic when we found this little guy (he was the size of a small dog or kitten) walking on the grass. You can’t see them, but he has skinny spindly long legs with which they walk extremely slowly. We even had to run back to the house to get the camera, 4 blocks away, and had enough time to get this picture of him.

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And the best part of the trip is the “local folk”. Here we have John’s oldest daughter and two of our four grandchildren. If only you could hear the littlest ones’ English accents. Emily was so very cute last July, where she called me “grand-dad Shellie” (not grandma) in her little girl Yorkshire accent.

And then there is the lovely top picture: the spectacular moors near Skipton, decorated in their summer heather and balmy warmth. Sadly, it will be much colder for our visit this time, and of course the flowering heather will be gone. But it will be lovely, green, and much wetter.

So, our bags are packed, the house-sitter is set, and we are almost ready to fly! Posting will be at a standstill, as will all social media. Emails and commenting will be slow since I will have access to the computer for a short time daily. But when we return things should be back to normal just in time for our favorite celebration – Halloween!

Once again, cheers my dears. Till the end of October!

(All the pictures included above where taken by John or myself. Please, if you use any of them, credit Layers of Thought.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: All Seeing Eye ~ by Rob Thurman

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Review by Shellie for: All Seeing Eye ~ by Rob Thurman

A dark, fast paced, paranormal novel that’s jam packed with action and snarky dialog. I am thinking it’s for fans of Dean Koontz (but with attitude).

About:  Jackson Lee is a psychic. A damaged and sarcastic psychic with a hundred pound piece of lead on his shoulder. This is understandable as Jackson’s attitude reflects his very rough childhood - an abusive drunken step-father; knowing that his favorite little sister has been murdered; the subsequent deaths of his entire family (except for his psychopath sister); and then spending his teen years in a group home (one where only brutality and cunning keep the boys alive). It’s no wonder he’s extremely bitter.

But things are looking up for Jackson due to his strong will to survive. He now has a legitimate business doing psychic readings and calls himself – the “All Seeing Eye”; which is the dark truth for Jackson, since he has the the gift (or curse) of knowing that whoever he touches will provide him with a complete vision of that person’s entire life. Every sordid detail. The viewings are so overwhelming that in order to cope he has become a loner, who must wear gloves and long sleeves (even in the sweltering Georgia heat where he lives) to prevent contact with people and objects.

When the scientist brother of an old group home friend shows up on Jackson’s door, pretending to look for a reading from a “real” psychic but then kidnaps him and takes him to a military research facility, the drama escalates. Really escalates.

Thoughts:  This was a fast and absorbing read with an interesting, damaged, and snarky character – Jackson Lee. I enjoyed the drama and most of the back and forth smart dialog, although it did get to be a bit much at times. Jackson has a continual stream of comments supporting his ability to “smart-arse” his way through all his interactions, and he tells everyone off.

I enjoyed the writing style of Rob Thurman and found it to be extremely readable. However, in addition to the strong snarky factor, I was a bit disappointed with what I felt was not enough solid explanation for the paranormal technology/science that was part of the research facility where most of the story takes place. But these small niggles will not prevent me from reading another book by Rob Thurman. The book is mostly well fleshed out and I did breeze through it’s almost 400 pages quickly, and have to note that it is decidedly intelligent. I also liked that there are several psychopathic characters in the novel which the author develops interestingly.

Recommended for anyone wanting a fast paced, escapist read with paranormal and dark aspects. It felt similar to a book I read by Dean Koontz years ago, which I enjoyed a lot. It had that same nebulous paranormal factor that was not completely explained but satisfying. I give this book 3 stars. I am thinking that All Seeing Eye will have sequels, since Jackson Lee’s special abilities could lead to more interesting predicaments.

Content info: This book has dark themes, lots of strong language and violence, which may be bothersome to some readers.


380 pages; July 31st 2012; Pocket Books.

Rob Thurman is the New York Times bestselling author of the Cal Leandros series. For more visit her website: http://www.robthurman.net/

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Guest Post: Daniel A. Rabuzzi ~ author of The Choir Boats and The Indigo Pheasant

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A guest post about the Creative Process from Daniel A. Rabuzzi, author of The Choir Boats (#1) and The Indigo Pheasant (#2).

The first in Daniel Rabuzzi’s Longing for Yount young adult fantasy series - The Choir Boats, was released in Fall 2009. It received excellent reviews from SF/F bloggers, as well as critics. The second book, The Indigo Pheasant, the series conclusion, is scheduled to be released in a few days. Both are published by ChiZine Publications.

In honor of this newest book’s release we have the pleasure of reading about the thoughts and creative processes of its author, where below, he tells us about his in-depth, intriguing and helpful workings while creating his novels. So, let’s welcome him!

photo:© Kyle Cassidy, all rights reserved


A Picture-Show in the Night-Kitchen

Thank you Shellie for inviting me to post at Layers of Thought. I will describe my creative process, not as a “how to” but hoping to spark responses from the Layers of Thought audience, so that we learn from one another. Each of us creates in a unique way; I am fascinated by the infinite variety of means and methods.

I am an “imagist,” rather than a “plotter.” My stories build out from images and scraps of words, with little structure or end-point in mind at the outset. I do not have a story that needs words, I have words that need stories. Before the words even, I have images.

I start with the small, the idiosyncratic, the particular. (In graduate school for history, I was dubbed one of the “truffle hunters,” as distinct from our opposite numbers known as “balloonists”). Colors come before the composition, the line before the fleshed-out thing. Characters arrive on the scene seemingly without any pre-determination by their author: one early morning or sometimes just past midnight, a character announces her- or himself, and that’s that. And my task thereafter is to make the plot-lines and motivations work to suit the new set of facts. Sometimes it happens that characters exit the story altogether, as if they had never existed, just as expeditiously as others appear... all based on the pictures that my mind finds on the top shelves of the pantry and at the back of the cupboards, usually as I sleep.

I wake up, often at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., with an image in my head. Indeed, the image wakes me, forces me to pay attention. The image ripples and hunts in the unlight around me, or stands and broods in a vista shaped by shadows just south of my bed, or laughs and sings in a meadow of unfolded clothes on the floor. Maybe it is a bone-white owl with fiery eyes and an impossibly long tail streaming behind it. Maybe it is a tower wrapped in a thicket of thorns high on a cliff by the sea. Maybe it is two women poring over a letter by lamplight, one of them gasping. Sometimes the image is nothing more than a single word or a sentence, a short text hanging like a fragment of tapestry in front of my awakening eyes. Sometimes the image is pure color and line, sometimes a primal shape: fields of woven blues that speak to me, rhythmic reds and dancing, densely layered hues that I cannot always name; a radiant burst, or a ponderous rectangle that proceeds up into the clouds, a wall of shapes cupped and beveled. (*)

Then comes the deliciously desperate scramble to capture the image, to fasten it in words to a piece of paper. (If I can offer any advice to novice writers, perhaps it is to keep by your bed a notebook, or even better a sketch pad, and many pens and pencils, to be at hand when you fall out of the night-kitchen). Treasure the notebooks and sketchpads, they are the feedstock for all that comes next.

I rarely understand at once what the images mean. But the images beckon and tease, they demand a story that explains them. I very much want to know who or what they are, what they intend. What is the identity of the deadly owl, who is he pursuing and why? Who is dreaming in the thorn-fenced tower by the sea, what emperor or witch set that person there...as a punishment, or as protection? Who are the women reading the letter, who sent it, why the gasp? The colors that shimmer just out of reach conjure a mood I must convey, are the mood I am trying to convey: the color of melancholy or joy, of languor or ambition. Above all, I try in my writing to capture the essence of color, as the closest element to true understanding of the world, in harmony with music and mathematics. (**)

So, I am an imagist. My way of writing could be termed “internal ekphrasis,” as I describe and explore the pictures that my night-kitchen produces. (My deep love of still life painting is surely both a precondition for and an outcome of my process of creative writing.) I follow Gerald Manley Hopkins on the inscape of a thing (and the instress that allows us to perceive the inscape wholly and truly), I agree with Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee on the spirituality of the image. As Klee said, “The picture has no particular purpose. It only has the purpose of making us happy.” Happy not necessarily as in unscathed or uninformed by pain, but satisfied that we know the meaning of a thing, or at least its story.

Again, my only advice will be to stay alert to the pictures that may form in your mind, and to get them on paper as soon as they appear. Use whatever you have, if you are caught without a proper sketchbook. I am known at work for scribbling and sketching in the middle of otherwise strenuously earnest business gatherings: griffins and manticores cavorting across budget statements, snippets of fantastical prose hanging from the minutes of board meetings. Dry cleaner’s bills, napkins, envelopes...they will all do. Just grab the image, nail the floating words to something solid.

Store these for later use. The word “hobbit” reportedly popped into Tolkien’s mind one dull summer afternoon in the 1920s while he was grading exams (Tolkien wrote the opening line of The Hobbit directly onto a student’s exam book). He did not know what a hobbit was then, but knew he had to find out. Sometimes the wait will be long. For example, one November evening in 1979, these words came to me, pretty much fully formed: “On the sway-back slopes above the shore unreachable grew sugar-trees with arak berries/ sailors sighed over their half-gummed hard-tack.” I still am no closer to knowing where that shore is or who those sailors are, but I have never quit the quest to find out.

Eventually the story, with its characters and their wants, its settings and phases of the moon (if your setting in fact has a moon), will emerge from the images. The colors will yield up their secrets, the half-texts will knit themselves into a story. Or maybe not. Don’t discard the stories that run out into the sand. They are most likely part of another tale, one that is still there waiting under the shore, or at the roots of those sugar-trees with their arak berries.

Of course, you may not be an imagist. You may be a plotter, a story-boarder. I have immense admiration for those who move from story to language and image, because I do not (probably cannot) write that way. The writers for the great multi-season tele-dramas are to me powerful wizards controlling narrative arc and character motivation in ways as mysterious as they are effective. Watching favorites such as The Wire and The Sopranos, Treme and Battlestar Galactica, and the filmed version of Game of Thrones, I am awed by the precision and eloquence of the script writers.

Thank you again Shellie for allowing me to share some insights into my own process. I am eager to hear from others how they approach and execute as they shape stories of the fabulous.

(*) I keep thousands of images in folders or bookmarked at websites and in a library full of art books (it helps that my wife, Deborah Mills, is a professional artist). I suppose they must influence the direction of my dreaming...but equally I look at and to them for approximations of what I have already seen in my dreams. Images that resemble the strokes of a Robert Motherwell or a Cy Twombly, the gunpowder swirls of a Cai Guo-Qiang, the bars and patches of a Joan Mitchell, float and limber across my nightscapes. Luminous veils of color immerse me, like the soft but inexorable pull of a painting by Mark Rothko or by Helen Frankenthaler; I skid along placid chromatic geometries that I think Richard Diebenkorn would have favored. Sometimes vaguely biomorphic shapes emerge within the color, creating vistas that could be painted by a William Baziotes, an Antoni Tapies or an Yves Tanguy. Sometimes shapes and line are paramount, monochromatic or very subtly shaded solids, ordered like a sculpture by Louise Nevelson or by Leonardo Drew.

(**) In my commonplace book, I have a special section just for descriptions of colors. Here is one example I return to often for inspiration, a passage from Jorie Graham’s “The Dream of the Unified Field,” in which she describes a crow: “Close up, he’s blue - streaked iris blue, india-ink blue - and black - an oily, fiery set of blacks - none of them true...[...] indigo, cyanine, beryl, grape, steel...Then suddenly he wings and - braking as he lifts/ the chest in which an eye-sized heart now beats-/...”

© Daniel A. Rabuzzi 2012


Information for the the Longing for Yount series (covers link to Chizine’s page for the books):

The Choir Boats (#1) September 2009; Chizine Publications; 406 pages. Read an excerpt from The Choir Boats.

London, 1812 | Yount, Year of the Owl    What would you give to make good on the sins of your past? For merchant Barnabas McDoon, the answer is: everything.

When emissaries from a world called Yount offer Barnabas a chance to redeem himself, he accepts their price -- to voyage to Yount with the key that only he can use to unlock the door to their prison. But bleak forces seek to stop him: Yount's jailer, a once-human wizard who craves his own salvation, kidnaps Barnabas's nephew. A fallen angel -- a monstrous owl with eyes of fire -- will unleash Hell if Yount is freed. And, meanwhile, Barnabas's niece, Sally, and a mysterious pauper named Maggie seek with dream-songs to wake the sleeping goddess who may be the only hope for Yount and Earth alike.

The Indigo Pheasant (#2) October 2012; Chizine Publications; 350 pages. Read an excerpt from The Indigo Pheasant.  

London, 1817    Maggie Collins, born into slavery in Maryland, whose mathematical genius and strength of mind can match those of a goddess, must build the world's most powerful and sophisticated machine -- to free the lost land of Yount from the fallen angel Strix Tender Wurm. Sally, of the merchant house McDoon, must choose either to help Maggie or to hinder her.

Together -- or not -- Maggie and Sally drive to conclusion the story started in The Choir Boat, a story of blood-soaked song, family secrets, sins new and old in search of expiation, forbidden love, high policy and acts of state, financial ruin, betrayals intimate and grand, sorcery from the origins of time, and battle in the streets of London and on the arcane seas of Yount.

Bio:  Daniel A. Rabuzzi has an educational background in folklore and mythology, as well as a doctorate in 18th-century history. Once upon a time he was a Banker, but now he writes novels, poetry, short fiction, and scholarly articles on a variety of subjects.

Daniel lives with his wife – artist Deborah A. Mills (pictured above and the artist who provided the carvings for the cover art for Daniel’s books.) They live in New York City with their two cats.

To find out more about and to connect with the author: Website; Facebook Page; Blog; Goodreads; and Twitter.

And for more about artist Deborah Mills, link to her website

Two related giveaway events are coming soon:

  • The Choir Boats (Longing for Yount #1.) In ebook format so it’s international! The giveaway will be posted at the end of October.
  • 3 Sets of Printed Cards created by Deborah Mills for 3 lucky winners in November! They will be signed by the artist.

Thank you Daniel! What a pleasure it was to read, and share with our readers, your creative process!

Friends and readers please tell us about yours.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Incoming Books: September 18, 2012

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It’s our: Incoming Books feature for September 18th, 2012.

I’ve included the book covers, some publication information and the publisher’s blurb for the book. Also the book covers link to the publisher’s sites for more information on the book, author and perhaps an excerpt or two.

Now please tell us: Which of these recently released books (or almost new) would you pick up and read first?


Macmillan/Tor

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan ~ by Robin Maxwell; Tor Books; 9/18/2012; Trade Paperback; 320 pages.

Cambridge, England, 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat dissecting corpses than she is in a corset and gown sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of traveling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientific hero, Charles Darwin.

When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father to join an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Africa is every bit as exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined, but Jane quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets—and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane finds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.

Jane is the first version of the Tarzan story written by a woman and authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Its publication marks the centennial of the original Tarzan of the Apes.

Check out a fabulous Q & A with Robin Maxwell and an excerpt for the book.

in war times

In War Times ~ by Kathleen Ann Goonan; Tor Books; August 2012; Trade Paperback; 352 pages; (originally published in May 2007.)

Winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel.

Kathleen Ann Goonan burst into prominence with Queen City Jazz, the start of her Nanotech Quartet. The Bones of Time, her widely acclaimed second novel, was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2000. In War Times is deeply satisfying SF. Sam, the protagonist, is a young enlisted man in 1941 when his older brother Keenan is killed at Pearl Harbor. Seduced by a mysterious woman, Sam gives her plans for a device that will end not just the war, but perhaps even the human predilection for war.

Sam spends his war years trying to construct the device and discovers only later that it worked. Sam falls in love with a spy, and they both become involved in preventing the JFK assassination in the 1960s. Over the decades it becomes deeply meaningful that his world is strangely transformed by the enigmatic device.

immortality factor

The Immortality Factor ~ by Ben Bova; Tor Books; August 2012; Trade Paperback; 480 pages (original publication -April 2009.)

Provocative, gripping, startling: with The Immortality Factor bestselling author Ben Bova delivers a knockout read with his trademark blend of cutting-edge science and unrelenting suspense....

Some see stem-cell research as mankind's greatest scientific breakthrough. Others see a blasphemous attempt to play God. Suddenly, the possibility of immortality exists. Two brothers, both doctors, stand on opposite sides of the controversy. To Dr. Arthur Marshak, his work is a momentous gift to humanity. To Dr. Jessie Marshak, it is a curse. Between them stands a beautiful, remarkable woman both brothers will do anything to save. Somehow, before it's too late, Arthur and Jessie Marshak must bridge the gap that divides them...on an issue that could mean nothing less than life or death for millions.

this case is gonna kill me

This Case is Gonna Kill Me ~ by Phillipa Bornikova; Tor Books, September 2012, Trade Paperback, 320 pages.

What happens when The Firm meets Anita Blake? You get the Halls of Power—our modern world, but twisted. Law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by “the Spooks,” and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky humans are selected to join the vampires, werewolves, and elves—or, on occasion, to live at the Seelie Court.

Linnet Ellery is the offspring of an affluent Connecticut family dating back to Colonial times. Fresh out of law school, she’s beginning her career in a powerful New York “white fang” law firm. She has high hopes of eventually making partner.

But strange things keep happening to her. In a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. After some initial missteps, she finds herself sidelined and assigned to unpromising cases. Then, for no reason she can see, she becomes the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. However, there’s apparently more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she’s going to shake up the system like you wouldn’t believe….

We have a giveaway for This Case is Gonna Kill Me (US & Canada), but only for a few more days!

Titan Books

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The Cocktail Waitress ~ by James M. Cain; UK -Titan Books (US -Random House) 272pp;  21 September 2012.

Following her husband’s death in a suspicious car accident, beautiful young widow Joan Medford is forced to take a job serving drinks in a cocktail lounge to make ends meet and to have a chance of regaining custody of her young son. At the job she encounters two men who take an interest in her, a handsome young schemer who makes her blood race and a wealthy but unwell older man who rewards her for her attentions with a $50,000 tip and an unconventional offer of marriage…

Includes a 4,000 word feature on the locating of this “lost” Cain novel, by Hard Case Crime editor, Charles Ardai.

Read my 4.5 star review of The Cocktail Waitress.

Cedar Fort

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The Turning Point: Conquering Stress with Courage, Clarity and Confidence ~ by Balasa Prasad and Preetham Grandhi;  Cedar Fort, Inc. (December 11, 2012) 176 pages.

Available for the first time in book form, the proven Turning Point Program offers you a life totally free from stress. Through poignant personal experiences and actual patient case studies, you'll discover a systematic approach to understanding the nature of stress and how it affects you. Refreshing and realistic, this book will guide you step by step to a stress-free future!

Hodder & Stoughton

dirty streets of heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven (Bobby Dollar #1) ~ by Tad Williams; US Publication 9/4/2012; Pages: 400; by DAW; UK Publication September 13th 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton.

Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren’t all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doDirtyStreetsofHeavenesn’t trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth.

When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad. Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them.

You’ve never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you’ve never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed.

tomorrow the killing

Tomorrow the Killing ~ by Daniel Polansky ; Hodder; UK publication is 11th October 2012;  368 pages.

Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town.

His name is Warden.

He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery's daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother's murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

Read John’s review of the first book in this series – Low Town - and a guest post from the author Daniel Polansky

Simon & Schuster - Atria

map of the sky

Map of the Sky ~ by Felix J. Palma; Atria Books, September 2012; Hardcover, 608 pages.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Map of Time returns with a mesmerizing novel casting H.G. Wells in a leading role, as the extraterrestrial invasion featured in The War of the Worlds is turned into a bizarre reality.

A love story serves as backdrop for The Map of the Sky when New York socialite Emma Harlow agrees to marry millionaire Montgomery Gilmore, but only if he accepts her audacious challenge: to reproduce the extraterrestrial invasion featured in Wells’s War of the Worlds. What follows are three brilliantly interconnected plots to create a breathtaking tale of time travel and mystery, replete with cameos by a young Edgar Allan Poe, and Captain Shackleton and Charles Winslow from The Map of Time.

Read John’s 4.5 star review for The Map of Time, from last year.

Lyons Press

journeys on the silk road

Journeys on the Silk Road ~ by Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters; Pub Date: 09/04/2012; Lyons Press; Pages: 336.

A desert explorer, Buddha's secret library, and the unearthing of the world's oldest printed book.

A literary thriller-meets-travel adventure-meets-popular history rife with a fascinating cast of characters that includes a misfit explorer named Aurel Stein, a cunning abbot, and a fox terrier named Dash the Great, all set against the land of dunes, sandstorms, and the mysteries of the East.

When a Chinese monk broke through a hidden door in 1900, he uncovered one of history's greatest literary secrets: a 1000-year-old time capsule of life along the ancient Silk Road. Inside the chamber on the edge of the Gobi Desert, documents were piled from floor to ceiling. The gem among them was the Diamond Sutra of 868 AD, now recognized as the world's oldest printed book.

The sutra, a key Buddhist teaching, was made more than 500 years before printing transformed European civilization. The book's journey — by camel through treacherous deserts, by boat to London's curious scholars, by train to evade the bombs of World War II — merges an explorer's adventures, political intrigue and continued controversy.

The words of the Diamond Sutra have inspired Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley and the Dalai Lama. Its path from East to West has coincided with the growing appeal of Buddhism in the contemporary world. As the Gutenberg Age cedes to the Google Age, the discovery of the Silk Road's greatest treasure is an epic tale of survival, a literary investigation and an evocation of the traveling power of the book.

ChiZine

indigo pheasant

The Indigo Pheasant (Longing for Yount #2) ~ by Daniel A. Rabuzzi; illustrated by Deborah Mills; Paperback, 406 pages; September 2012; Chizine Publications.

London 1817.     

Maggie Collins, born into slavery in Maryland, whose mathematical genius and strength of mind can match those of a goddess, must build the world's most powerful and sophisticated machine—to free the lost land of Yount from the fallen angel Strix Tender Wurm. Sally, of the merchant house McDoon, who displayed her own powers in challenging the Wurm and finding Yount in The Choir Boats, must choose either to help Maggie or to hinder her. Together—or not—Maggie and Sally drive to conclusion the story started in The Choir Boats—a story of blood-soaked song, family secrets, sins new and old in search of expiation, forbidden love, high policy and acts of state, financial ruin, betrayals intimate and grand, sorcery from the origins of time, and battle in the streets of London and on the arcane seas of Yount.

choir boats

The Choir Boats  (Longing for Yount #1) ~ by Daniel A. Rabuzzi; Paperback, 350 pages; September 2009; Chizine Publications.

London, 1812 | Yount, Year of the Owl

What would you give to make good on the sins of your past? For merchant Barnabas McDoon, the answer is: everything.

When emissaries from a world called Yount offer Barnabas a chance to redeem himself, he accepts their price—to voyage to Yount with the key that only he can use to unlock the door to their prison. But bleak forces seek to stop him: Yount's jailer, a once-human wizard who craves his own salvation, kidnaps Barnabas's nephew. A fallen angel—a monstrous owl with eyes of fire—will unleash Hell if Yount is freed. And, meanwhile, Barnabas's niece, Sally, and a mysterious pauper named Maggie seek with dream-songs to wake the sleeping goddess who may be the only hope for Yount and Earth alike.

Entangled Publishing

Paradise 21

Paradise 21 (A New Dawn, #1) ~ by Aubrie Dionne; Entangled Publishing; 248 pages; August 2011.

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind’s last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew—a planet that won’t be reached in Aries’ lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage.

But Aries has other plans.

When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates—humans who escaped Earth before its demise—are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet’s native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns her freedom will come at a hefty price.

The life of the man she loves.

Simon & Schuster – Pocket Books

lust for life

Lust for Life (WVMP Radio #4)~ by Jeri Smith-Ready; Pocket Books, November 2012; Mass Market Paperback; 384 pages.

EVERYONE’S OUT FOR BLOOD—HERS

Ciara’s con-artist parents taught her three keys to survival: keep low, keep quiet, and most of all, keep moving. But managing WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll—not to mention becoming a vampire herself—has kept her in one place long enough to fall madly in love, adopt an undead dog . . .

. . . and make more enemies than she can shake a stake at.

A psychotic DJ, a wanna-be necromancer, and a posse of vengeful hippies would all love to see Ciara get her day in the sun—literally. To protect Ciara, her fiancĂ©, Shane, has traded his flannel shirt and guitar for a flak jacket and crossbow. If she survives to walk down the aisle, will she recognize the man waiting at the altar?

In this final chapter of the award-winning WVMP RADIO series, Ciara must decide who to trust, whom to love—and whom to kill.

all seeing eye

All Seeing Eye ~ by Rob Thurman; Pocket Books, July 2012; Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages.

The New York Times bestselling author of the Cal Leandros series delivers a bold new supernatural thriller where one man’s extraordinary abilities come with an equally phenomenal cost.

Picking up a small, pink shoe from the grass forever changed young Jackson Lee’s life. Not only did its presence mean that his sister Tessa was dead—murdered and stuffed in the deep, black water of a narrow well—but the shoe itself told him so. Tessa’s death triggers an even more horrific family massacre that, combined with this new talent he neither wants nor can handle, throws Jack’s life into a tailspin. The years quickly take him from state homes to the streets to grifting in a seedy carnival, until he finally becomes the cynical All Seeing Eye, psychic-for-hire. At last, Jackson has left his troubled past behind and found a semblance of peace.

That is, until the government blackmails him. After Jackson is forced to help the military contain the aftermath of a bizarre experiment gone violently wrong, everything he knows about himself will change just as suddenly as it did with his little sister’s shoe.

And while change is constant . . . it’s never for the better.

Harlequin/Mira

demoness of waking dreams

The Demoness of Waking Dreams (Company of Angels #2) ~ by Stephanie Chong; Harlequin MIRA; Sep 2012; Paperback; 400 pages.

Ex-cop Brandon Clarkson is an angel with an edge. His tough exterior is the perfect camouflage for his job—hunting down the most dangerous criminals on earth. A self-reliant and demanding lone wolf, Brandon is the perfect angel to track and capture demoness Luciana Rossetti.

Beneath the surface of Luciana's cool, green-eyed beauty lurks the heart of a malevolent killer. In the winding streets of Venice, she lures Brandon into her dark world of pleasure.

They are perfectly matched. Angel and demon. Man and woman. But only one can win the battle of wills, of strength and of desire.


That’s all for this month.  And please let us know in the comments:

Which of these books have you read (and what did you think), but most importantly which one would you choose to read first?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Blood and Other Cravings ~ edited by Ellen Datlow

blood

Review by Shellie for: Blood and Other Cravings ~ edited by Ellen Datlow

Not for just vampire lovers, this is another compelling and diverse collection of horror from some of the best in the genre,  edited by Ellen Datlow. What’s great about these stories, is they are not all based upon traditional “fangy” blood suckers since the cravings and feedings in this book are not only about blood.

About:  Published in the Fall of 2011, this is my second horror collection edited by Ellen Datlow. Although all the stories in this collection are exceptional, I have my favorites and have marked them with asterisks. In my opinion it’s one of those perfect Fall reads, especially for any reader who enjoys short stories, likes a scare before going to sleep (to induce interesting dreams), or who may be short on reading time.

**All You Can Do Is Breathe ~ by Kaaron Warren:   A stunning short that’s a 2012 Ditmar Award nominated story. It’s about a “very thin man” who feed on the survival instincts of the strongest survivors from close-to-death experiences. This story is one of my favorites from the collection.

Needles ~ by Elizabeth Bear:   Demons, vampires, and tattoo needles are the theme of this story which is set in the town of Needles, Arizona.

Baskerville’s Midgets ~ by Reggie Oliver:     It’s a dark competition between preforming midgets and dwarves that stretches beyond the grave, all set in a boarding house in what feels like 1930’s England.

Blood Yesterday, Blood Tomorrow ~ by Richard Bowes:   Two middle aged memorabilia sellers and “recovering blood-addicts” remember and long for the days when their addictions were active. And  become seduced back into their old lifestyle’s drama.

X for Demetrios ~ by Steve Duffy:   Based on a bizarre yet true story found in a newspaper article, this short is about a man with an extreme vampire phobia and obsession, and his relationship with the garlic he believes will protect him.

Keeping Corky ~ by Melanie Tem:    A “special” mom with paranormal abilities decides to take back her beloved child from his adopted parent and the system that placed him, both of which are attempting to prevent her from contact with her boy.

Shelf-Life ~ by Lisa Tuttle:   A childhood doll house takes on a life of its own and creates problems for a woman and her daughter in England.

**Caius ~ by Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malsberg:    One of my favorites, it’s a short story  based on a radio talk/help show featuring a modern day messiah, his would-be worshipers, and his relationship to madness.

Sweet Sorrow ~ by Barbara Roden:  A very dark short about an elderly couple who feed on the sorrow of grieving parents and friends of lost children.

First Breath ~ by Nicole J. LeBoeuf:   A bizarre, twisty and surreal story with LGBT and reincarnation elements.

Toujours ~ by Kathe Koja:  An obsessed butler becomes an even greater part of his talented employer’s life, not only to be close to him but to spite the artist’s new wife.

Miri ~ by Steve Rasnic Tem: A photographer is pulled into an imbalanced relationship with an anorexic woman who sucks out of him a key ability that he uses in the creation of his work.

**Mrs. Jones ~ by Carol Emshwiller:   My favorite from this collection, this short is about two “old-maid” sisters, living together on their family farm. After years of juvenile-like conflict and competition between the two, they have an odd visitor who one of the sisters seduces. It’s darkly hilarious with a feminist twist.

Bread and Water ~ by Michael Cisco:  A dark short about an ill and constantly thirsty man, who is quarantined with others who have caught the same virus.

Mulberry Boys ~ by Margo Lanagan:   A revengeful short about surgically altered, bizarre “silk” producing and imprisoned boys, that has Margo Lanagan’s characteristic dark fairytale quality.

**The Third Always Behind You ~ by John Lanagan:   Another favorite from this collection, it’s about a dark love triangle that continues even after the death of one of the participants. It is wonderfully disturbing.

The Siphon ~ by Laird Barron:   An eternal bachelor con/salesman, after years of scummy behavior gets his just desserts by attracting a bevy of diverse and ancient demons.

Highly recommended, this is a great collection at 4 stars!


Blood and Other Cravings, has several significant award nominations:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Giveaway: Under the Sea Hop ~ September 14th to 20th

undertheseahop

Welcome to the Under the Sea Giveaway Hop ~ from September 14th to 20th. Hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and The Musings of ALMYBNENR. (Badge above links to our primary host’s page for the giveaway.)

This hop features books with mermaids, sirens, selkies, divers, swimming, boating, dolphins, etc. And for all you water fantasy aficionados out there here is link to Tor’s recent listing of posts for their incredible Sea Monster Week.


SaltGodsDaughter

We have recently released - The Salt God’s Daughter ~ by Ilie Ruby on offer for one US or Canadian address. 

Here’s a bit about it:

Celtic mythology merges with real life in The Salt God’s Daughter, the story of three generations of women who survive in the wilds of a shifting landscape. Theirs is a world where the spirits of sea animals keep watch, where mothers ferry children about by the stars, and men walk right out of the waves—a startling evolutionary tale of true love and the power of redemption.

Set in Long Beach, California, beginning in the 1970s, The Salt God’s Daughter follows three generations of extraordinary women who share something unique—something magical and untamed that makes them unmistakably different from others. Theirs is a world teeming with ancestral stories, exotic folklore, inherited memory, and meteoric myths.

Meet Diana Gold, who raises her two daughters on the road, charting their course according to an imagined map of secrets drawn from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Meet her daughters—Ruthie and Dolly—who are raised in the back of their mother’s station wagon and then later in an old motel turned retirement home on the ocean, a place where the residents run with half-packed suitcases into the ocean at night, where lipstick kisses are left on handkerchiefs and buried in empty bottles, and where love comes in the most unlikely and mysterious of places—perhaps it even walks right out of the ocean in the form of a man.

Ruthie and Dolly are caught in the wilds of this enchanted landscape, fiercely protective of each other and unaware of how far they have drifted from traditional society. But when they are suddenly forced to strike out on their own, and Ruthie becomes the victim of a sexual assault, they are caught in the riptide of a culture that both demonizes and glorifies female sexuality. It is within this conflicted landscape that she must find her way again. Years later, Ruthie’s daughter is born with a secret that will challenge her ties to the women in her family, and to the ocean.

Impeccably narrated in two powerful and distinctive voices, The Salt God’s Daughter puts a feminist spin on a traditional Scottish folktale about the selkies—a provocative, timeless story that explores our ability to transcend the limitations of a world that can be hostile to those who are different, and to find joy and belonging even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

For more information about The Salt God’s Daughter and its author link to Ilie Ruby’s web site: http://www.ilieruby.com/


Now for the Giveaway!

Please be a reader or follower to enter this contest, and fill out the Google form:

You must do one of the three below:

  1. Google: via the blog’s side bar (I will follow back if I can find your blog) or
  2. Facebook: for updates in your feed - add me as a friend or
  3. Your Email Box

Optional ways to keep up to date on giveaways, reviews and more:

  1. Feed Reader
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  3. Google+
  4. Pinterest

This giveaway hop is now closed. Please stop back by for our next giveaway/hop which should be live soon!

Congrats to the winner of Ilie Ruby’s book The Salt God’s Daughter – Irene M.!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: The Cocktail Waitress ~ by James M. Cain

cocktailwaitress

Review by Shellie for: The Cocktail Waitress ~ by James M. Cain

A page-turning posthumous noire novel, by crime fiction master James M. Cain. Told from the first person perspective of the gorgeous Joan Medford – who, the reader is left to decide, is either a victim or a murderer.

About:   Joan Medford is a “knock out” - leggy, curvy and smart too; some of the characteristics of a quintessential femme-fatale. However, looks and brains have not stopped her from making mistakes, like her accidental pregnancy and subsequent marriage to a brutal drinker. Her story begins after the “accidental” death of her inebriated husband, when she winds up at a local bar as a cocktail waitress – to help her pay her bills.

Although socially unacceptable for “nice women”  to work in bars (this is the 1950’s), she is more than grateful for her new job serving alcohol in the required uniform of velveteen shorts and a peasant blouse. She knows that she can now financially care for her toddler and turn on the electricity, which was cut off for non-payment. It's even better when she starts receiving unusually large tips from a very wealthy older businessman who becomes smitten with her.

But to Joan’s chagrin, she has also caught the eye of a poor, booze-loving, but handsome rake that she finds all too alluring. Still, Joan is determined to do the best for her little boy and chooses to marry the richer older man. She is relieved that the marriage will not be consummated, since her husband-to-be has a delicate heart which will not withstand the exertion of marital relations.

Events become intriguingly complicated around this warped love triangle as the men in Joan’s life die, or are murdered. As she tells her story in an uncompleted and direct way, the reader gets to decide – is Joan an unreliable narrator or a victim?

Thoughts:  It’s kind of neat that this novel has been published 35 years after the author’s death. It’s interesting to think about the effort that the editors have had to put into piecing it together, attempting to imagine what the author would have done had he been alive to help the process. Interestingly, there is a 11 page afterword describing how some of this was done, by editor Charles Ardai. Regardless, I do have to say the results are wonderful.

The Cocktail Waitress is my first noire crime fiction. I have learned that noir is told from the perspective of one of the victims, suspects, or perpetrators. Which is different from a detective novel, told from the perspective of a crime fighter. I think that is one reason why I enjoyed the novel so much. It was written as if Joan was attempting to explain her story to the reader and judge. It’s written with her old fashioned voice, appropriate to the character during the time, and in my opinion creating a page-turning pleasure to read. I don’t have any other books by Cain to compare this with, but if it’s any gage of what to expect from his other books, I am going to have a blast attempting to read his entire collection.

Additionally, I enjoyed the book for other reasons. My favorite characters are strong women, and the darker the better. So Joan could be a perfect fit, depending on your opinion of her after finishing the book. I liked the ambiguity of not knowing whether Joan was an unreliable narrator.  So the book is one of my favorites for 2012 at 4.5 stars. Highly recommended for crime fiction lovers, and anyone who enjoys strong female leads.

Content advisory: This book has adult themes, nudity, sexual references and scenes, violence, as well as strong language (although I do not recall any cursing) so some readers should be advised.


272 pages; Hard Case Crime (September 18, 2012)

For an excellent detailed bio of the author (including a listing with dates for the books he published):   James M. Cain (1892-1977) is considered one of the preeminent "hard-boiled" crime writers of the 1930s and 1940s…. Read more at  http://www.answers.com/topic/james-m-cain

Also for a description of noir fiction: http://noirfiction.info/what.html

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: Telegraph Avenue ~ by Michael Chabon

Telegraph Avenue

It’s release day and we have a review by John for: Telegraph Avenue ~ by Michael Chabon

A mini family epic set against the backdrop of the California Bay Area, jazz and soul music, and changes in local society. The story even manages to embrace kung fu, Blaxploitation movies and the Black Panther movement!

About: Brokeland Records is a store on Telegraph Avenue on the border of Berkeley and Oakland, specializing in used vinyl and focused on jazz and soul music. Run by two long-time buddies, Nat (who is white) and Archy (who is black), the store is so much more than a record shop – it’s a multi-cultural center of gravity for many locals who gather there, chew the fat, and generally hang out. While it always totters on the edge financially, it is very much a labor of love for the music-loving Nat and Archy.

They are also bound together outside of Brokeland, as their wives are both midwives and are partners in Berkeley Birth Partners, which over the years has helped many hundreds of local women to give birth in their own homes – much to the chagrin of some local doctors who want to see all births take place within hospitals.

Now their bumpy, somewhat chaotic but somewhat steady lives are rocked on several fronts. An ex-NFL star, who is the fifth richest black man in the US, is planning on opening a megastore on Telegraph Avenue which would almost certainly mean doom for Brokeland Records; Berkeley Birth Partners is faced with legal action and professional ruin; Nat’s fragile teenage son falls in love with an itinerant black boy who turns out to be Archy’s long-lost (and never acknowledged) son; and an eccentric man, who is the closest thing to a real father that Archy ever had, unexpectedly dies. Can’t get any worse? Then Archy’s real father turns up – he’s a total deadbeat who used to be a kung fu expert and starred in third-rate Blaxploitation movies, and he’s after something.

John’s thoughts: This is a heck of a book – an interesting story, a complex many-threaded plot, many dashes of wry humor, and some well-constructed and complicated characters. The main characters are by no means perfect – they have all too many human flaws, but you can’t help liking them (mostly) and you do want things to end up well for them.

Chabon is clearly someone who knows the Berkeley/Oakland area well and has a deep affinity for it. He includes lots of local detail and color, and clearly has fears and hopes about how the area is developing. Likewise he must be a huge fan of the music that Brokeland Records sells, and the book has a multitude of musical references. Actually, I did find that sometimes the deep attachment to the location and the music got in the way a bit – as some of the references and colloquialisms were a bit lost on me.

I like the way that Chabon brings in lots of different plot elements, including local politics, cultural tensions, family/generational tensions and (even!) the Black Panther movement. These are all intertwined with the main storylines, and it gives the book an almost epic feel.

A word on the writing style – at times I found the wording and syntax tough, and had to re-read many of the sentences. This got easier as I progressed through the book, but it did slow me down and didn’t help with the pacing. Nonetheless, I’d rate this four stars and recommend it to anyone who likes to read meaty novels about complex family and social tensions, especially those with a musical and multi-cultural backdrop.


Michael Chabon

Read (ARC edition); General Published Edition: Harper (September 11, 2012) 480 pages.

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, Wonder Boys, Werewolves in Their Youth, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Summerland (a novel for children), The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Maps and Legends,and Gentlemen of the Road.

He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children. Website | Facebook


tlc logo

This review is part of a book tour.

For more information and reviews click on TLC’s tour badge and it will take you to the designated page for Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue tour.

Several Other Up-coming Tour Stops for the Book

Wednesday, September 12th: The Year in Books

Thursday, September 13th: Book Him Danno!

Friday, September 14th: The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Giveaway: This Case is Gonna Kill Me ~ by Phillipa Bornikova

this case is gonna kill me

Giveaway for: This Case is Gonna Kill Me ~ by Phillipa Bornikova (Tor; 320 pages; Sep. 2012)

It’s a crime fiction oriented urban fantasy with vampires, werewolves, elves, and fey. And we have one copy for a US or Canadian address courtesy of the publisher!

Here’s the blurb and author bio:

Linnet Ellery, the offspring of an affluent family dating back to Colonial times, is no stranger to the supernatural. Fresh out of law school, she’s beginning her career in a powerful New York “white fang” law firm. She has high hopes of one day making partner. But in a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. When she’s assigned to a dead-end case with a dead-end boss, Linnet can only hope that she’ll be able to carve a place for herself within the entrenched hierarchy of the firm.

Then, for no reason that she can see, she become the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. For some inexplicable reason, her dead-end case is now worth her life. However, there’s more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she’s going to shake up the system like you wouldn’t believe…

This Case is Gonna Kill Me introduces a new type of heroine to urban fantasy, one who works within the system and not outside it, and uses the power of the law and her personal sense of justice to save the day.

Phillipa Bornikova has been the story editor of a major network television series, a horse trainer, and an oil-company executive. She lives in the Southwest. This is her first novel.

Just in case you are not sure you can read an excerpt at Macmillan’s website page for This Case is Gonna Kill Me.


Now for the Giveaway!

Please be a reader or follower to enter this contest, and fill out the Google form:

You must do one of the three below:

  1. Google: via the blog’s side bar (I will follow back if I can find your blog) or
  2. Facebook: for updates in your feed - add me as a friend or
  3. Your Email Box

Optional ways to keep up to date on giveaways, reviews and more:

  1. Feed Reader
  2. Twitter (I will follow back, for any of these social media sites.)
  3. Google+
  4. Pinterest

The winner of this giveaway will be determined by the random.org fates, and all personal information requested in the Google form will be used only for the purposes of this contest.

Thank you for entering and good luck!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: In a Fix ~ by Linda Grimes

in a fix

It’s release day for In a Fix ~ by Linda Grimes and we have a review  by Shellie for it!

A laugh-out-loud, fast-paced, new romantic urban fantasy series with a sexy love triangle, bound to keep readers sleep deprived and waiting for the next in the series.

About:  Ciel is a feisty, petite red head with loads of freckles which she dislikes every time she looks in the mirror. But she doesn’t linger too much on her perceived inadequacies and gets on with life since she has a new business; after all she is an adult. Or so she tells herself, even though her family and friends behave otherwise.

Ciel’s business is based upon using her genetic talent of “aura adapting” (the ability to take on the form of another person) to assist wealthy clients in need. In her latest job, Ciel has taken on the image of a drop-dead gorgeous wealthy young woman. She is to travel to the Bahamas to obtain a proposal for marriage and an engagement ring from her client’s even richer and perfectly handsome boyfriend. But to Ciel’s chagrin things don’t go as easily as she hoped or planned.

When Ciel’s dreams of a sexy (she has been granted sanctioned sex with her client’s boyfriend), luxurious and “paid vacation” becomes a mess, she is more than a little upset. Even though the bungalow of the two wealthy love birds’ is blown into pieces, and the hunky would be groom is missing, Ciel still has her job to think about. She needs to return her client’s fiancĂ© (with the ring) to collect her earned money even though it’s Neo-Vikings that are the cause of the problem.

The story becomes even more twisted, and hilarious, as Ciel’s two very male, sexy, meddlesome, and controlling childhood friends (aura adaptors too) become deeply involved – believing that she needs protecting and is incapable of taking care of herself.

Thoughts:  I devoured this book in three sittings, which is rare for me. I am a “grazer” when it comes to reading. Meaning: I read bits and pieces of many different books, sometimes completing them, often not. However, with In a Fix I had to find out what was going to happen next in the book on several levels - dramatically and romantically.

But the best part is that I laughed myself silly throughout the story, and I liked the main character. Ciel, is self effacing, strong and will not let life’s messy events keep her from getting her job done or doing mostly the right thing. I liked that she refused to let her two male childhood friends, hell-bent on keeping her in the dark and safely in an office, stop her from living her life, taking care of her new business and haphazardly saving a few lives.

I recommend pushing through to the second third of the book if you are having any trouble with the first several chapters, it was worth it for me. It’s highly recommended for its snarky (beware of strong language) and not completely politically correct humor (what truly funny humor is),  pant-inducing romance scenes (includes some hilarious and sexy nudity), and its old fashioned chivalry with a modern twist (guys will be guys humor.) This was great genre fun! It’s a 4 star in my opinion. I will be waiting for the next book in the series.


Tor Books; 9/4/2012; Trade Paperback;  336 pages.

LINDA GRIMES is a former English teacher and ex-actress now channeling her love of words and drama into writing. She grew up in Texas and currently resides in northern Virginia with her husband.

If you’d like to check out a trailer for In a Fix, the author has one posted to her website, Visiting Reality! http://www.lindagrimes.com/2012/08/in-fix-trailer.html

Also the winner of the ARC copy of In a Fix with the author signed book mark goes to:   Lauren M. Congrats Lauren!

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