Red Rising by Pierce Brown

BrownRedRisingWhere I Got It: Own it

Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds

Publisher: Recorded Books (2014)

Length: 16 hours 12 minutes

Series: Book 1 Red Rising

Author’s Page

Set in a far distant future on Mars, Darrow works hard mining below the surface. Mars’s caste system has kept the population, and especially the Reds like Darrow, working hard for a better, brighter future for their children for generations. However, Darrow loses much even as he gains knowledge of the great betrayal perpetrated by the ruling classes. Now he’s determined to up end things, even if it takes becoming what he most despises.

This was an excellent book, one of my favorites of the year so far. It has depth, a brilliant plot, a unique and gripping setting, and characters with teeth. The story is told through Darrow’s eyes. His story arc for this book takes him from hard working family man to accomplished upper-crust warrior. Generations past, those terraforming Mars set up a caste system, complete with color coding. The Reds, which is Darrow’s caste, is the lowest of the castes. The Golds are the rulers of the planet and live in comfort and excess. Initially, Darrow is quite happy to spend his life working hard to provide a better future for the next generation. He has a loving wife Eo who he dotes on. She is the first in the story to hint that there is something more to be had and she encourages Darrow to dream bigger. Then tragedy opens his eyes to the reality and he undergoes a bit of terraforming on his own body and mind in order to infiltrate the Golds and set in motion a long-term plan to up end the caste system. Darrow was a hard man to start with. He had to be in order to be the brilliant, talented Hell Diver he was on the mining crew. What he undergoes by the end of this book chisels him, mind, soul, and body, into an even harder person.

The secondary characters are just as brilliant. Darrow expected all the Golds to be the same but his time at the Institute, a kind of war games training ground for the up and coming Golds, shows him that not all Golds are the same. Alliances must be made in order to dominate the game, but they are playing for keeps and this means there will be serious injuries and even deaths. It’s a brutal sifting to remove the chaff from the grain.

I loved all the references to Roman deities and the use of Roman titles in the military hierarchy. The setting for the war games is little more than Medieval – no indoor plumbing, being hunted by wolves, castles to lay siege to, etc. There are a few bits of cool tech that come into play and there’s references to human colonies on other moons/planets in the solar system. The author does a great job of keeping us focused on Darrow’s circumstances while also hinting at the larger picture.

This book brought out some strong emotions for me, which I always love in a book. Darrow lives through some harrowing things, but he also has to do some heinous things. There are plenty of tough choices for him in this book. Several of the other characters also held my attention, such as Sevro and Pax. Sevro’s family history makes him interesting but then Sevro himself beat the odds against at the Institute, surprising everyone. Cassius is another curious character, capable of great loyalty and true brotherly affection. Yet if he is betrayed, his vengeance can be a game changer. Quinn is a scary, scary woman. I definitely wouldn’t want to cross her. There is also Mustang, who kept her loyalties close to her chest throughout the story.

All  together, it’s a brilliant science fiction setting coupled with the brutality of a tale of the Roman Empire. I very much look forward to reading the next installment.

The Narration: Tim Gerard Reynolds did an excellent job with this book. His voice for miner Darrow had a bit of an Irish accent, and accent that the character must dampen as he morphs into a Gold. Reynolds did a great job of portraying this with his voice talents. His character voices for the other characters were each distinct and his female voices were believable. He also did a great job of imbuing Darrow’s voice with emotion. 

What I Liked: Great setting; impressive story arc coupled with Darrow’s character arc; so many  betrayals; unexpected friendships; the war games – brutal!; clever book cover art; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – truly an excellent read!

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Review

She Reads Too Much

The Book Smugglers

Fantasy Cafe

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

FrostHalwayToTheGraveWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Tavia Gilbert

Publisher: Blackstone Audio,  Inc. (2010)

Length: 11 hours 17 minutes

Series: Book 1 Night Huntress

Author’s Page

Cat Crawfield is half human and half vampire, her mother having been raped by a vampire, which left her pregnant. Cat has hated her vampire side her whole life and started hunting them in her teens, with her mom’s blessing. Now in her early 20s, she’s come across Bones, a vampire bounty hunter. Seems like a great person to team up with, right? Alas, Bones is also a vampire and Cat is torn between her single-minded approach to vampires (stake them and bury them) and her desire to learn more about vampires in order to hunt down her father.

This was a mostly fun paranormal romance. There’s a lot of witty banter, though by the end it was getting predictable. The characters started off interesting but then melodrama set in and I was wobbling about finishing it towards the end. While the romance was a bit silly, the sex scenes were pretty good – steamy and sweet.

Cat has a lot of hang ups which aren’t a big deal at the beginning of the book. Her unusual heritage and her mom’s hatred of vampires drive Cat to excel at her evening past time – going to clubs, luring vampires to secluded spots with the promise of sex, and staking them. She then buries them in the family orchard – vampnure! She had to learn much of what she knows on her own and there’s been no one to train her. So, that’s pretty impressive.

Alas, she has this whiny side. We all have one, and I don’t mind a character sharing a bit of it in a story, but she whined about something the entire book. First, she has no friends because she’s this outcast in a small town since her mother had her out of wedlock. Well, aren’t there other outcasts that you can at least sit around and commiserate with? There’s always other outcasts. So the idea of her never having a single other friend by her early 20s just seemed a bit over done. As the story progresses, she has hangups about her developing friendship and romantic interest in Bones. He’s a vampire and she’s also a bit afraid of sex, having only one other short lived experience. Near the end, it’s all gotten a bit too melodramatic for my tastes and Bones adds his own melodrama over their relationship as well. This was my biggest turn off for the book. I wanted more bad guy butt kicking and burying, more character development, and less angsty weeping heart-on-the-sleeve stuff.

The plot was decent. Bones has been in the bounty hunter business for some time and he’s made some friends and some enemies. Cat has an obvious goal – hunt down her father. Initially, it’s just Cat and Bones doing some training and then some work together. Then Bones introduces her to some of his friends and some frenemies. There’s plenty of action and injuries.

I really liked that we learned some of Bones’s earliest background later in the story and I especially liked that it forced Cat to rethink some of her assumptions about Bones. I think that Bones could be a rather interesting character if he wasn’t all hung up on Cat and her drama.

The ending was OK. The melodrama was a big part of it. But I did like that Cat had to make some hard decisions in order to keep some control over her own life. One of my favorite parts of the book was Bones calling Cat out on her hypocrisy. Since Cat hasn’t had a real friend before this both hurt and was truthful so it was big stepping stone for Cat to see the truth in it and decide what to do with it. I know several people really enjoy this series and I’m on the fence about continuing it. It’s fun in a brainless, just tune out the world sort of way, but the melodrama coupled with the narrator’s voice for Bones… not so hot.

Narration: Tavia Gilbert did a great job with voice of Cat. She sounded like a 22 year old female vampire hunter with a chip on her shoulder. However, I didn’t really like her voice for Bones. He’s suppose to have this English-Australian accent that’s been softened by 200+ years of living wherever he likes. However, her voice for him is over done and not sexy at all, which normally wouldn’t be too important except he is the main love interest in a romance novel. Gilbert did do a great job of imbuing the voices with emotion and I liked her voice for the alcoholic ghost, Winston.

What I Liked: Strong start to the book; Cat has had to teach herself all  of what she knows; Cat has some hangups; Bones is a bounty hunter; Bones’s back story; the butt-kicking and burying of the bad guys; Cat has to make some hard choices.

What I Disliked: So much drama; Cat has a LOT of hangups; Bones joins in the melodrama; the narrator’s voice for Bones.

What Others Think:

Dear Author

Love Vampires

Star-Crossed Book Blog

SF Site

Children of the Different by S. C. Flynn

FlynnChildrenOfTheDifferentWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Stephen Briggs

Publisher: The Hive (2016)

Length: 9 hours 39 minutes

Author’s Page

This post-apocalyptic tale is set in Western Australia. 19 years ago, the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. Now when children enter their adolescence, they go into a trance-like state, entering the Changeland, and may come out of it fairly normal or a bit deranged and prone to cannibalism. Arika and her twin brother Narrah are at that age and their adventures in the Changeland will alter them, and perhaps their small society, forever.

This tale was just a bit different from anything else I have read recently. First, I loved the setting and all the Australian animals that come into play throughout the tale. There’s even stromatolites! From dense forest to dry desert to cityscape to ocean-side village – this story covers a lot of ground. Then we have the Changeland, a place that can only be entered by your spirit through a trance-like state. Everything is warped in the Changeland. Sometimes a person sees images of cities healthy and whole before the Great Madness and sometimes a persons sees things as a they are now, but far, far from where they live. For both Arika and Narrah, they each run into the Anteater, which is like our Coyote trickster of the desert southwest here in the states. His motives aren’t clear until the end of the story, but he uses both charm and threats to set things in motion.

While Arika in undergoing her Change, her brother is out of the village when he comes across Weiran, who used to be part of the village before he went a bit feral after his own Change. Narrah ends up captured by a group of city people and hauled away. Once Arika comes back to reality, she insists on going after him but she has to sneak away to do so. Turah, another childhood friend who now has strange prophetic abilities, goes with her. Both Arika and Narrah will have some harrowing experiences before they are reunited. Once they do, there is the task of taking one of the few remaining military bases in the area! The plot kept me guessing the entire time. There’s a little Mad Max action too when folks take some of the few remaining functional vehicles on the last jog of the story.

This was an exciting story. At times, it was beautiful and strange, and at other times I was biting my nails in anticipation of what would happen to our heroes. The Changeland is an eerie, unpredictable place and adds an unexpected dimension to this post-apocalyptic tale. S. C. Flynn is an author to keep an eye on and see what he comes up with next.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Stephen Briggs was a great choice for this tale. I loved his Australian accent he did for all the characters (except for the 1 or 2 minor characters who weren’t Australian). He also had this great gritty voice for this character Bowman who doesn’t show up until the second half of the story. Sometimes the volume did wiggle up and down a bit, but not so much I had to turn the volume down or risk ear damage. Over all, a great performance. 

What I Liked: New-to-me settings; the Anteater!; great twist with the Changeland; stromatolites!; such a beautiful book cover; plenty of action; great to have 2 heroes to follow through the tale; great narration.

What I Disliked: Occasionally, the volume dipped a bit for a section, or rose slightly for the next section. Not a big deal, but I did have to turn up the book a handful times.

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Rissa Blakeley, Author of the Shattered Lives Series

BlakeleyBrokenDreamsFolks, please welcome author Rissa Blakeley to the blog. Get ready for a lively interview that includes The Christmas Story, Black Dagger Brotherhood, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Worst job was retail. I started working at Lerner NY when I was fifteen. I don’t even think it’s called that anymore so I think I’m showing my age a bit! Anyway, I was working there maybe a week or so and the district manager came in. As I was adjusting some racks in the leather coats area, she came over and yelled loudly … Never turn your back on the door! Then she stormed away chapping to another employee about me…and my back to the door. -shrugs- How does this compare to writing? I’m my own boss. I can turn my back to the door anytime I want to.

If you were trapped in your post-apocalyptic world, the Shattered Lives series, which 4 other post-apocalyptic authors would you take with you?

I think putting four PA authors together could be dangerous! Writer’s are already a special kind of crazy. Then add four together who may or may not look at you like you’re the rogue or the one who was about to run away or even the one who would sacrifice the good of the group to survive… Maybe we should have a post-apocalyptic author, a romance author, a fantasy author, and a nonfiction author. Someone needs to keep it light, adventurous, and we would need someone to document everything.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Sarcasm used as main form of communication.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I was quiet and shy, then overcompensated until I figured out who I was. Now, I’ve just been growing as that person. I didn’t see myself as a writer at all. I wanted the usual things – doctor, lawyer, teacher. Things changed drastically in my life in 2004 and here I am today, living completely different than I thought I would.

BlakeleyTheKing'sFateIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Hmmm good question. I’m not a social butterfly so I’ll go small. Let’s start with Vishous and Rhage from Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Nothing too crazy yet. I’m not sure how I would react. I may be just as excited as them.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

It’s not really a debate or an argument, but my mother and I have had this long time ‘feud’. She hates the movie The Christmas Story. I dislike pink flamingo decor. So we are forever sending each other stuff. Most recently, I filled her birthday card with TCS stickers. I have been known to wrap her gifts in TCS paper. I send my father TCS stuff so she can’t throw it away. One year for his birthday, I bought him a huge Ralphie in the Pink Nightmare bunny outfit ornament. He thinks it’s hilarious, my mother just thinks of revenge.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

In October, I will be signing at the Carolina Book Fest in Charlotte. It’s a great event and I’m excited to be part of it again this year. As of right now, I don’t have any more release dates set. Soon. I think after this next read through of Full Circle (Shattered Lives, Book Five), I will have a better idea. The second book in the Corvidae Guard series, The King’s Destiny, will be written once I’ve sent Full Circle off to my betas. I do have an amazing thing happening in fall. I can’t wait to share it with everyone! Keep your eyes open!

Places to Find Rissa Blakeley

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Instagram

BlakeleyBrokenDreamsBook Blurb for Broken Dreams (Shattered Lives #1): Elaina Cooper’s world was turned upside down on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. She was about to marry Henry Daniels, the man of her dreams — or so she thought. Just as she was to walk down the aisle, screams pierced the air.

In the days that followed, questions lingered in Elaina’s mind. Why did Henry seem to know so much about what was happening? And why did she feel like he was keeping secrets from her? Henry knew that his haunted past would eventually catch up to him…in more ways than one. Through all of this, he must face his demons, and Elaina must decide whether she can accept who he is. Henry is determined to fight to the very end to make their sexy, mercurial relationship work no matter what staggers in their path.

Along with their ragtag band of survivors, they must travel south to face Henry’s fears. There will be joys and loss but, in the end, is love enough to hold them together?

BlakeleyTheKing'sFateBook Blurb for The King’s Fate (Corvidae Guard #1): In a world where Fae and Vampire will forever be at odds, a Vampire wins the crown, ruling the Fae Realm for the first time in history.

An Incubus, Leolin Kyffin, and his barren Succubus, Louise Bach, plot to end King Zachariah Orsova’s life, allowing them to rule the Fae Realm.

Through Louise’s encouragement, Leolin walks into a female Vampire’s dream and mates with her, breaking Zachariah’s law. His hope is to create what he thinks will be the most powerful half-breed known to the Realm.

When Zachariah kills the Succubus, Leolin vows revenge, sacrificing his half-breed son, Monty Saxon, and using him as a pawn to tear out the King’s heart, hoping to make him feel the pain of death while living.

When Leolin walks into Zachariah’s dreams, he fills his mind with unimaginable thoughts and desires. Doing the same to Monty, he secures his devious plot, patiently waiting for the precise moment Zachariah and Monty will be brought together as one.

The choices Leolin makes all add up to delivering a fate worse than death to his half-breed son and the King of the Fae Realm. Will Leolin avenge the murder of Louise? Will Zachariah and Monty survive, or will they be left suffering in the end?

GIVEAWAY!!!

I’m so excited to have Rissa here on my blog that I’m  giving away 1 ebook of Rissa’s works (winner’s choice). Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have a memorable or on-going geeky argument? 2) Please leave a way to contact you. Giveaway is open internationally. Ends September 25th, 2016, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ebook Giveaway & Interivew: Aidan Edwards, Author of Cages

EdwardsCagesEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Aidan Edwards. We chat about landscaping, Star Wars, favorite hero duos, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – International ebook of Cages.

If you could be an extra on a Sci-Fi Thriller movie or TV show, what would it be?

If I could be an extra in a sci-fi movie it would have to be Star Wars. That would be beyond cool! Daniel Craig was actually an extra in the newest one. He had one line. See if you can spot him next time you watch it.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

I absolutely love marketing and self-promotion. A lot of authors think it’s beneath them, but for me it’s pure fun. I guess that’s just the entrepreneur in me talking, but, to me, marketing is a lot like a chess game. It’s about anticipating where your potential followers and readers will go next, both in the physical world and online; then using that data to best position yourself and your product to ensure maximum success.

I’d say my favorite part of self-promotion is learning about the different kinds of people that are interested in my work. It’s nice to hear from them and think of them as actual people rather than just numbers on a screen. My least favorite part of marketing is definitely dealing with traditional mainstream media sources. Although they have a lot of outreach, most of them tend to be pretty archaic in the way that they do things and that can be frustrating at times.

Another thing to remember about marketing is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Patience and persistence are key. It’s not uncommon to feel discouraged in the beginning when you’re not getting the results that you want, but keep at it because, with time and effort, it will pay off.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

First off, I think every job is a great job because everything can be a learning opportunity as long as you have the right mindset. For example, when I worked at a movie theater I learned a lot about customer service. That being said, I’d say my worst job was landscaping for my parents one summer. It involved a lot of heavy lifting. It was a lot of work with pickaxes and shovels and things like that. That’s when I said to myself, “From now on, I need to give everything I do 110%, because I’d rather fail doing what I love than never try and spend my days shoveling dirt and wondering what-if”.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Calpurnia and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. I know they may not seem like heroes, but to me they fit the definition perfectly. Heroes aren’t people in capes or deities with superpowers, but regular everyday people who do the right thing even when they encounter resistance. Atticus and Calpurnia serve as authoritative figures in Scout’s life and, through tough love and wise words, they teach her what it means to stand up for what you believe in.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

My writing space is a complete mess. I think Albert Einstein said it best, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what, then, is an empty desk a sign of?”

I think it’s important to be flexible when writing. If you get too superstitious it could get in the way of the work. I have my places that I prefer but, as long as I have headphones, I can write anywhere.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a mad scientist. I was completely enamored by the unknown. I wanted to learn, I wanted to explore, but mostly I just wanted to mix test tubes and blow stuff up. Then, when I learned how much math was involved, that career prospect quickly faded.

The idea of becoming a writer had never even occurred to me. Sometimes I forget that I’m a “writer” because I don’t feel like one. Then again, I’m not sure how that’s supposed to feel anyway. Hot beverages and pretentious poems? Maybe.

Actually, in a lot of ways I still think I’m a scientist. Every choice I make in life, and in my writing career, is just another experiment. Some experiments fail, and others succeed; but all have their lessons.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Well I wouldn’t have dinner with the authors, but I’d love to have dinner with their characters. Here is the guest list: The Mad Hatter (a tea cup filled with red mercury), Jay Gatsby (a fine steak and a glass of champagne), Boo Radley (chicken nuggets), Billy Pilgrim (a plate of sausages), Smeagle (a whole raw fish).

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

Any biographies. People are simply fascinating. Plus, I notice patterns when I read biographies. For instance, if you pay close attention, you will notice that the story of Marconi and the wireless long-range telegraph almost perfectly parallels the story of Steve Jobs and the iPhone.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Fortunately, I haven’t had any awkward fanboy/fangirl moments yet. Some people spend their whole lives trying to garner fame and attention, but I try my best to avoid it. I love my work and that is enough. Also, I enjoy my privacy.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I usually have my fingers in a lot of pies at once. Right now I’m helping my friend with a marketing campaign for his line of stylish waterproof shorts. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s just another experiment.

Places to Find Aidan Edwards

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

EdwardsCagesBook Blurb for Cages: What would you do if you had a kill chip implanted in your brain and you didn’t know when it was going to go off?

The clock is ticking as Jake searches for the infamous programmer who started it all, the one man who knows how to remove the chip. The question is…how much time is left?

With his love by his side and his self-driving car to guide him, Jake traverses the AI-controlled United States to find a man many believe is dead. Along the way, he encounters mutant animals, knife-wielding jungle men, and the bots, with their flamethrowers and their black-and-white ways.

Then, everything changes when he finds something so special, so shapeless, it can’t possibly fit into the boxes at the prison-zoo— into the cages.

GIVEAWAY!

Aidan is offering up  2 ebook copies of Cages to winners who will share their reviews on social media (#MoreThanMyCages). Giveaway is open internationally! You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Who are some of your favorite heroes from books? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways end September 25, 2016, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paperbook Giveaway & Interview: Anne Louise Bannon, Author of Bring Into Bondage

BannonBringIntoBondageEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Anne Louise Bannon. Travel back to the roaring 1920s with her book Bring Into Bondage. Enjoy the interview and don’t forget to check out the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of the post!

What makes you cringe?

Hypocrisy. Drives me nuts.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

On the invite list: Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy Parker, Carrie Fisher. One each of their faves.

BannonFascinatingRhythmConventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

Love, love, love meeting new people and talking with them. Reading my stories out loud. Both of those are just so much fun. As for least favorite, it’s social media, not because I don’t like it. It’s just such a time suck and feels like so little return for such a grind of an effort.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Worst job was my first one – counter person at McDonald’s. I sucked at it. Still suck at food service. Most difficult, however, was parenting my daughter. She turned into a terrific human being, and it was the most meaningful job I’ve ever had. But it was tough work. How do they compare to writing? Writing is in my bones. It is what I am. I do have days where I’m struggling to pull each word out of me, but most of the time, it’s the most satisfying thing I do.

BannonTygerTygerIn my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

Have to chuckle. When I originally wrote Fascinating Rhythm and Bring Into Bondage, things were very, very different. No Google. No Wikipedia. And most important, no Michael Holland. He’s my husband and a historian. The historian part makes the research a *lot* easier. I’ll do a basic survey of a period and/or place, such as what I did for the book I’m working on now, which takes place in Los Angeles, California, in the 1870s. It’s a place you’d never recognize now. And little bits and pieces of that research are starting to slide their way into the story. Street names are becoming characters because a lot of streets in the city were named after people who lived here. I’ve got a list of the city council members at the time, and their “wives” are characters. A medical case I read about will become part of another scene. But another thing happens as I’m writing – more questions come up. I re-researched Bring Into Bondage three different times, as I learned more and more about life in the 1920s. It’s kind of an ongoing process, where the research feeds the story, then the story spurs more research. And it’s fun research and no footnotes!

In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

I think it depends on the bad guy. I do like redemption themes and have played with them in the past. I love it when a bad guy turns out to be a pathetic wimp. Because I mostly write whodunits, the trick for me is not to make the bad guy so bad you figure out it was her/him. I have used bad guys to make a point about the world in which we live. That’s a lot of fun, too.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

Act.

BannonStevensBookOfPoisonsWhat do you do when you are not writing?

You mean for fun? Sewing, knitting, reading, making soap and bread and sometimes cheese. The running gag around here is that we make the things most sane people buy.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

If it was a chapter book, then it had to have been Key to the Treasure. Don’t remember the author’s name, but it was a cute treasure chase in which some kids find old clues to a treasure hunt that had never been found by either their father or their grandfather.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

If you’re in Pasadena, California, Sept. 24 or 25, I’ll be signing Bring Into Bondage at Hoopla! An Emporium of Good Things, 2591 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena. And on Oct 21, I’ll be one of the authors at the Pasadena Central Library’s Art Night Author Festival.

You can check out my latest fiction serial, That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine, every Friday at annelouisebannon.com/blogs. And if you like light romance, my other fiction serial is at WhiteHouseRhapsody.com. Book One will be coming out at the end of this month. Finally, if you’d like to learn more about wine, check out OddBallGrape.com, the wine blog my husband and I write.

Places to Find Anne Louise Bannon

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

AuthorAnneLouiseBannonAuthor Bio:

Anne Louise Bannon is an author and journalist who wrote her first novel at age 15. Her journalistic work has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Wines and Vines, and in newspapers across the country. She was a TV critic for over 10 years, founded the YourFamilyViewer blog, and created the OddBallGrape.com wine education blog with her husband, Michael Holland. She also writes the romantic fiction serial WhiteHouseRhapsody.com. She is the co-author of Howdunit: Book of Poisons, with Serita Stevens, as well as mysteries Fascinating Rhythm, Bring Into Bondage and Tyger, Tyger. She and her husband live in Southern California with an assortment of critters.

BannonBringIntoBondageBook Blurb for Bring Into Bondage:

It’s back to the Roaring Twenties with Kathy Briscow and her socialite author boyfriend Freddie Little. Freddie arrives for what he hopes will be a very special date with Kathy only to find her in a tizzy and packing. There’s been trouble brewing on the family farm in Hays, Kansas, and now Ma Briscow has summoned Kathy home because her father is deathly ill. It’s about the only thing that could get Kathy in Freddie’s plane. The two fly to Kansas and are greeted by a shotgun blast.
It’s all sorted out very quickly, and Pa is still very sick but has survived the worst. Vandals, however, have been attacking the farm repeatedly. Kathy and Freddie decide to stay and find out what’s going on before some gets hurt even worse than when Pa got dunked in the creek.
Not that Kathy’s family doesn’t have their own secrets. Her brother Joshua has returned home with a new bride that he forgot to tell his family about. And Kathy’s youngest brother, Gamaliel, has an even darker secret. In town, there’s nastiness afoot, as Freddie meets a frightened young boy with tell-tale bruises, and then the boy turns up dead on the Briscow farm.
Kathy and Freddie get caught spooning behind the barn, and Pa Briscow gets his shotgun out. Even the threat of being goosed down the aisle isn’t half the trouble Freddie and Kathy face, when there’s another body found and Freddie gets arrested for murder.

GIVEAWAY!!!

Anne Louise Bannon is offering up 1 ebook copy (open internationally) and 1 paperbook copy (US only) of Bring Into Bondage. Do the Rafflecopter thing below of answer these questions below in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) What’s the first book you recall reading? 3)  Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaway ends September 24, 2016 midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paperbook Giveaway & Interview: Charles Salzberg, Contributing Author to Triple Shot

KlavanOMaraSalzbergTripleShotFolks, it’s my joy to have Charles Salzberg on the blog today. We chat about reality in fiction, difficult jobs, tasty libations, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post.

If you could be an extra on a murder mystery movie or TV series, what would it be and what would be your role?

Any crime movie directed by Martin Scorcese, and if I could go back in time and choose one, it would be Goodfellas. I don’t think I have the ethnic look, but I’d rely on the makeup department to make me look like one of the “made” guys.

What makes you cringe?

Bad writing. Bad acting. Blood.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

I don’t think critics take the crime genre as seriously as they should. There’s some excellent writing going on and it’s too often just dismissed because of the category it falls under.

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

I try to stay away from gross facts and instead try to make them up. But I’m afraid I fail miserably.

SalzbergSwann'sLastSongIt’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Lolita

Portnoy’s Complaint

Seize the Day

I invite all three authors: Vladimir Nabokov, Philip Roth and Saul Bellow. Roth is the only one alive right now, so I’d let him lead the discussion.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

Elmore Leonard. We’d talk about anything he wanted to talk about and I’m sure it would be entertaining, enlightening and instructive.

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

They should not be throwaways. In fact, every character in a book, no matter how “minor” should be an important part of the story.

SalzbergSwannDivesInIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Goodfellas, Naked City (TV) and Route 66 (TV).

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

I’m very big into pop culture. That’s because I grew up watching a lot of TV and reading a lot of magazines and newspapers. I read the gossipy tabloids, like the New York Post, although I couldn’t disagree more with its politics (when I was growing up it was a very liberal paper) and The New York Times. I’d say I’ve got way, way too much trivial pop culture information in my head.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

It’s very important. I make stuff up but it’s got to be credible and real in the sense that the reader has to believe “it could happen.” I love incorporating interesting information in all my novels. Like Swann Dives In was set in the world of rare books, so all the information about that industry is absolutely true. I research all my books and when I set them in places I haven’t been before, I make sure I get them right by questioning friends who’ve been there, using maps, and researching the area so that no one could tell that I haven’t been there.

Over the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

Absolutely. When I was growing up there was the hero and there was the bad guy. Now, sometimes you can’t tell who is who which, by the way, I think is a good thing because it much better reflects the real world. The world isn’t black and white. It’s shades between those, and no one is all good or all bad. Except for me. And I won’t tell you which one that is.

SalzbergSwann'sLakeOfDespairWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I don’t care what writers tell you, writing is not difficult. Writing well might be, but sitting down at a computer and making shit up is not anything like the hard work so many other people do. I have the utmost respect for people who really do work for a living, meaning holding real difficult jobs like doctors, sanitation workers, cops, firemen (and women), construction workers, mail deliverers. You name it.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

Everything I’ve ever read has been useful and probably is reflected in what I write. I used to be a magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer and that has helped my fiction immensely. As an example, for Swann’s Last Song, the protagonist is a skip tracer. I never would have even known what that was if I hadn’t interviewed a real one for a magazine years ago.

Who are your non-writer influences?

There are so many. Nabokov, Roth, Bellow, Malamud, Chandler, Hammett, and I could go on and on.

Do you have any superstitions? Do you have any phobias?

I’m not crazy about heights, and I’m probably as superstitious as the next person but I just don’t let it rule my life.

SalzbergDevilInTheHoleIn writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

I just want my readers to be interested and entertained by them. I’m not one of those people who thinks you have to like a character in order to enjoy the work. In fact, sometimes the more you dislike someone the more interesting they become. I want to make my characters complex, which makes them real.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

“Do not understand me too quickly.” I wish I’d said that but Andre Gide did and I’m appropriating it now.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

I’m much too lazy to be anything else.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

It’s a little bit of both. And I’d love to be able to write in cafes or outside, but I’d be just too distracted. I’d wind up watching people rather than writing.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

Very shy. Read all the time. And yes, I don’t think I remember wanting to be anything other than a writer. I probably imaginarily accepted the National Book Award when I was thirteen.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Mystery literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Anything by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie and a host of authors writing now, whom I won’t name because then I’d leave out someone very important. Of course, my co-authors Ross Klavan and Tim O’Mara would be high on the list.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

This is slightly different but it does involve dodging a potentially embarrassing moment. I was on a Bouchercon panel a few years ago on writing “grit.’ I was there because of my novel, Devil in the Hole, which is based on a real-life crime. At the end of the panel session one of my fellow panelists leaned over and said, “you reviewed my book for the New York Times.” All I could think was, “please God, I hope I liked the book,” because I was always honest as a reviewer and if I didn’t like something I said so. “What did I say?” I asked gingerly. “Oh, you liked it,” he said. Crisis averted.

What do you do when you are not writing?

Which is most of the time, by the way. I meet friends for meaningless talk. I read. I go to movies—I can average two a week—and I watch TV. I used to play a lot of sports, but due to a pretty bad injury I can’t do that anymore. But I coach softball.

McCauleyGrandCentralNoirSide characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

The Goldblatt character in my Henry Swann novels has gotten way out of hand. I think people like that character better than Swann. I’ll get emails like, “I enjoy your books but I love Goldblatt!” He’s a fun character to write. His name is the same as one of my best friends but he’s nothing like Mark Goldblatt (or at least not that I’d admit). And Mark loves having a character named after him.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I think it was either about Robin Hood or a book called, “The Winning Forward Pass.” I actually have two copies of that book that I found in a couple bookstores.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

I doubt I’d run an obstacle course—I’m one of those who thinks “why run when you can walk, take the bus, drive, fly, etc.” But the libation would probably be a chocolate ice cream soda. If I were forced to choose an alcoholic beverage, it would be one of those “girly” drinks with an umbrella in it.

Where to Find Charles Salzberg

Website

GoodReads

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

AuthorPhoto_CharlesSalzbergAuthor Bio: 

CHARLES SALZBERG is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, Swann Dives In, Swann’s Lake of Despair (re-release Nov. 2016), Devil in the Hole (re-release Nov. 2016), Triple Shot (Aug. 2016), and Swann’s Way Out (Feb. 2017). His novels have been recognized by Suspense Magazine, the Silver Falchion Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award and the Indie Excellence Award. He has written over 25 nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez: My Life and Zany Times, with Soupy Sales. He has been a visiting professor of magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, and he teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop where he is a founding member.

KlavanOMaraSalzbergTripleShotBook Blurb for Triple Shot

Payback leads to an unmarked grave in Ross Klavan’s Thump Gun Hitched. A freak accident forces two L.A. cops to play out a deadly obsession that takes them from back alley payoffs to hard time in prison, then deep into the tunnel networks south of the border to a murderous town that’s only rumored to exist. Before the last shot is fired, everything they thought was certain proves to be a shadow and everything they trusted opens into a trap.

Life was so much simpler for Tim O’Mara’s marijuana-selling narrator in Smoked when all he had to worry about was keeping his customers, ex-wife, and daughter satisfied. When he forges a reluctant alliance with his ex-wife’s new lover, he realizes there’s lots of money to be made from the world’s number one smuggled legal product—cigarettes. Unfortunately, his latest shipment contained some illegal automatic weapons. Now he’s playing with the big boys and finds the price of the game way over his head. Murder was never part of his business model.

And finally in Twist of Fate, Charles Salzberg follows Trish Sullivan, an ambitious TV reporter working in a small, upstate New York market. She receives a note from Meg Montgomery, a beautiful young woman convicted of murdering her husband and two children. Montgomery claims she’s innocent and Sullivan, smelling a big story that may garner some national attention, investigates and turns up evidence that the woman has, indeed, been framed. What happens next changes the life of both women in unexpected ways.

Get your copy today!

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Giveaway!

The publisher, Down & Out Books, and JKS Communications are offering up 1 paperbook copy of Triple Shot to one USA winner. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have a USA mailing address? 2) What makes you cringe? Giveaway ends September 22, 2016, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway