Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ASHES US Tour Announced!

Well, at least part of it.

Ilsa announced the locations of the first two weeks of her ASHES US book tour next month! So if you're in Arizona (dammit it all, I was just there!), Mississippi, North Carolina, Michigan, Utah or Texas, be sure to check the dates, times and places so you can meet this lovely author! I've been trying to do it for years now but the tours don't bring her close! Or I keep missing her (like at BEA, srsly wanted to kick myself for that one).

She'll be announcing more dates as they become available. And count yourself extra lucky if you're in England or Ireland because she'll be seeing you all in October!

Contest Reminder!

Your chance to win a finished copy of THE BLENDING TIME by Michael Kinch ends tonight at midnight, EST! Be sure to get your entries in by then! Just click the link above this post to get zipped right on over there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two Awesome Books Go Live Today!

One of which I just reviewed yesterday. The other I reviewed last week but both merit yet even more mentions as they hit stores today. Both are progressive series books so if you haven't started either, you really need to. You're missing out on two amazing series of books! So without further ado, I present to you -

THE GRAY WOLF THRONE by Cinda Williams Chima

DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry

What are you waiting for? Go buy them!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

Pub date: August 30th, 2011.

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot & Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot & Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.

Evul. Jonathan Maberry is an evul, evul man. Holy good mother this was such a truly awesome sequel that I'm having a hard time forming it into words.

I LOVE Maberry's zombies. Love them. They're so Romero but don't second guess them. Like any good virus, it mutates so while he sticks to the classic Romero notion of slow, shambling, unthinking zombies, there's a twist. And it's pretty terrifying.

As if you thought things couldn't get any harder for Benny and Nix and Lilah and Tom (and Chong now), you thought so wrong you need to go dunk yourself in a dunk tank. Maberry does things to his characters that only the most sadistic of gods would do to its people. And I love him for it. He stretches and bends his characters, pushing them to the brink of their own destruction, just to see what they would do. Maybe they make it out, maybe they don't. But none of them are unscathed by it. They all show the battle scars of a mental and physical war run ripshod over their persons time after time after time. And they're all the better for it. Maberry's characters are some of the deepest, most dynamic I've found in YA to date. If you don't love them, I'm going to question your integrity as a human being.

There are horrifying revelations popping up all over the book that'll have you gasping (probably literally) and just maybe screaming at the book (just watch where you do it, you don't want people to think you're too insane). Mayberry goes THERE over and over and over again. Where's THERE? Where you think he just wouldn't go with the plot, where it would be too terrifying, too gruesome to even contemplate. He goes THERE, comes back and then crosses THERE to the other side where there's unknown stuff waiting. DUST & DECAY will keep you guessing until the last page. Maberry is so willing torture the hell out of his characters that you couldn't possibly admit to yourself that he might go THERE and when he does, whether you guessed it or not, you're still shocked.

And the ending? EVUL. Had me in tears. Literally. Thankfully I was home and could weep openly without judgment (although my dog did look at me a little strangely). There's resolve yet everything shatters but at the same time life goes on. You watch as these kids slog through hardship after hardship and yet even at the end, faced with the choice of going back to something easy or pressing on to something unknown, they take the road less traveled because it's who they are, shaped by the Ruin into something they were always meant to be.

Jonathan Maberry should be dipped in gold and worshipped as the zombie god he is. Read this series. Read it now. Then read it again and again and again. It is so fantastic in so many ways that I can't even possibly name them all. I don't think the language has created a few of those descriptors yet. Just read it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Added to the Pile + 89

I've got another haul this week, much to my bank account's chagrin.

From PaperBackSwap/BookMooch, more cheese -


From Tor -

AWAKENINGS by Edward Lazellari

From yet another trip to Borders (I've really got to stop) -

And a hurricane Irene update -

Things I've Learned from Books + 115

In the face of the apocalypse, the raging bible babblers are far more horrifying than any reanimated, flesh-eating corpse.

Hurricane Irene update:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

ASHES Awesome Pre-Order Special!

Have I not already told you how awesome ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick is? Have I not told you that you need to go out and pre-order this fantasmagorical book immediately? Well, if you deign not to listen to me and haven't done it yet, then maybe this will light the much needed fire under your little asses.

Jennifer Laughran, Ilsa's agent, is having an AMAZING pre-order giveaway for ASHES. Check out her post about it for all the drool-worthy details. But here's what you can get for pre-ordering ASHES by 11:59 PM on September 5th:
  • With proof forwarded to the above email, you'll get your choice of an ASHES dog tag, pin or bookmark. EVERYONE will get one of these for pre-ordering. Freakin' sweet, right? But wait . . .
  • You'll be entered to win even awesomer things from Egmont, like an ASHES survival pack (I'm guessing similar or the same as the one they were raffling at BEA) or an ASHES-skinned tablet/e-Reader.
For serious, why WOULDN'T you pre-order ASHES? It's a fantastic book plus you can get free things just for buying it and are entered to win even bigger stuff? What the deuce are you waiting for???

80s Awesomeness! ~ 124


Synonymous with airhead, ditz was another verbal spawn of the 80s. Often used against those of the valley persuasion to mean storing larger than normal quantities of air in one's head, leaving little room for a broader range of knowledge. Also making one prone to excessive brain farts.

Brace yourself.

Freaky Friday :|: 124

Title: Nightmare Hall: Book of Horrors
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: October 1994
Publisher: Point

Horror book author Victoria McCoy, the new Salem writer-in-residence, knows how to make horror come to life. So Reed is thrilled when McCoy hires her as her new assistant--until she finds out that McCoy's previous assistants have all disappeared. Then frightening things start happening to Reed. . . . (

Well this is unique. A rather deadly writer-in-residence. Makes the English wing a little more lively, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ASHES Gets Epic Marketing Push!

I've already waxed fangirlish on the awesomeness that is ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick. So imagine my squee moment when I see an article on Publisher's Weekly about how ASHES is getting the biggest launch in Egmont's history! With 125,000 copy first printing (which is huge), a pre-tour and another scheduled next month, it's a wonder that there's anyone left that HASN'T heard of ASHES yet.

Seriously people, it's a fantastic book. It really does put so many of those apocalyptic/dystopian books coming out now to shame in it's technical near-flawlessness. With a catastrophic world written so believably, it'll actually be pretty frightening to read. I'm telling you, you'll start looking at the sky differently after reading it. Considering in the past couple of months New England has gotten tornadoes, an earthquake and is bracing for a hurricane this weekend, it's only a matter of time before we have to start keeping an eye on our first born.

If you haven't read it already, put it on pre-order or mark your calendars to grab a copy when it drops on September 6th. Money absolutely well spent. Don't believe me? Then check out Lenore's joint review with Galleysmith. Four and a half zombie chickens don't lie, people.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

E-Book Reading Challenge COMPLETED!

You can check the final list here. Oh yeah! Only four more to go. I'm still worrying about that Off The Shelf Challenge, though. Those GOOSEBUMPS books are looking mighty tempting. I'll see how I look in December.

The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

Pub date: August 30th, 2011.

Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

Holy crap. Absolutely fantastic. Crap, crap, crap. Why crap? Because after THE DEMON KING and THE EXILED QUEEN, what do I have left to say?

The world is still as utterly fantastic as it's always been. Richly colored and full of life, Chima hasn't let it slip by as a sacrifice to the greater plot. It still plays its role magnificently, hanging out just on the edge of the background and foreground, being its own character but knowing when not to be overwhelming.

I'm all for Han and Raisa but there was a piece of me that rooted for Raisa and Amon too, despite how implausible (even more so than her and Han) the relationship was. It did end up going down the route it was destined to go down (as intoned in the second book, the Byrnes are not about to break the line any time soon, 1,000 years of history supports that). Even though it went where it was supposed to go, I couldn't help but feel a little bit sad. For as long as it was pushed off, the harsh reality could be ignored. No more and it was a bit of a hard pill to swallow. But they both swallowed it because they had to.

The mounting tension between Raisa and Han is just phenomenal. When he finds out just who Raisa is, it's heartbreaking. You want to tear through the pages and slap some sense into him but it's Han. He's far too steadfast for something like that. But they're forced together anyway (in a more professional manner) so any ill will Han does have towards Raisa he's forced to swallow it back for the greater good.

But Han's resilient. He knows full well he's being used but he flips the situation to his advantage. He finds all of the holes that would end up benefiting him while performing his duties and he takes them. He makes sure that he plugs those holes with his desires first and foremost. You can't help but be impressed by someone like that. He holds his own against the bluebloods and he deserves some respect for that.

Raisa is still infinitely awesome. After multiple attempts on her life she continues to land on her feet. Like Han, she's fully aware that she's being used by everyone around her, not to mention being underestimated constantly (bad on those doing it) but she's had enough political upbringing to view things from all sides. She doesn't make hasty decisions and knows strategy like no seventeen-year-old does. I don't feel like I'm reading about someone so young but about someone even older than me for how she holds herself. I love her more and more with every book.

And the ending? Cruel to the point of barbarism. If I'm not mistaken there's one more book in the series yet to come out. How long do I have to wait for that one???

If you haven't started reading this series yet, you really need to get on it. It's such a relatable, engaging high fantasy novel that I think even someone that isn't the biggest fan of fantasy will get pulled right into it. Sure there's magic and wizards and a whole new world but it's about the people, first and foremost. And the people are just so dynamic and intriguing that you won't want to take your eyes off of them. THE GRAY WOLF THRONE is a fantastic piece of the SEVEN REALMS puzzle. This series just keeps getting better and better. I'm going to have to create a sixth bite rating for the next one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm Eclectic? Really?

Imagine my surprise when I logged into my email account the other day to find an email from the organizers of Book Blogger Appreciation Week letting me know that I've been long-listed for the niche category, Best Eclectic Book Blog. For serious?

It always amazes me that I get thought of for stuff like this. Because in order to get nominated for one of the categories, others have to write in your blog name. So the fact that people are thinking about me at all for something like this blows my mind. And it was most likely more than one person doing it. I don't know how many nominations a blog has to get in order to be long-listed but even if it's just one, holy crap!

So thank you to everyone that slotted me for Best Eclectic Book Blog. Thank you for thinking of me at all, really. It makes everything that I do here worth it. Even if I don't get short-listed, it's an awesome feeling just to have been on the long list. Thank you all again.

In order to finalize my nomination I had to submit five links to bookish posts that would best demonstrate my eclecticism. With the aid of Soldier Boy, I narrowed it down to the following five -
What do you think? Did I choose well?

Monday, August 22, 2011

ARC Reading Challenge COMPLETED!

Another one bites the dust. Only five more challenges to go, a couple of which I'm super-close to completing. You can check out my completed ARC Reading Challenge list here. Now I can start zeroing in on the niches because I have some pretty hefty gaps to fill!

Two slots left to fill in the Old School YA Reading Challenge. Thirteen left in the Horror and Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge (not bad but not all that good, either). Only a single slot left in the E-Book Reading Challenge (which will be completed with my next review). Ten left for the YA Reading Challenge (not even sweating that one). And a whopping 33 left on the Off The Shelf Reading Challenge. I might have to crank out some of those Goosebumps books I have sitting in the pile to fill out those numbers a bit. Eep!

In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

Published March 28, 2011.

Two years ago I did a terrible thing. I accused my best friend of being a killer after seeing him kneeling over a girl’s body. That moment and that outcast boy still haunt me. Now my mom is forcing me back to Oklahoma and I can’t get White Bird out of my mind. But when I find out he’s not in juvie—that he’s in a mental hospital, locked in his tormented brain at the worst moment of his life—I can’t turn my back on him again.

No one wants me to see him. My mom doesn’t trust me. The town sheriff still thinks I was involved in the murder. And the other kids who knew the dead girl are after me. I’m as trapped as White Bird. And when I touch him, I get sucked into his living hell, a vision quest of horrifying demons and illusions of that night. Everything about him scares me now, but I have to do something. This time I can’t be a coward. This time I have to be his friend.

Even if I get lost, as well...

This was an interesting one and I'm still not too sure how I feel about it despite having finished it a couple weeks ago. I did like it. It had a particular ambiance to it that made it creepy but a great murder-mystery all at the same time. Without a doubt I kept turning the pages because I was DYING to find out what happened to White Bird, or what was going to happen to Brenna at the hands of, really, ignorant rednecks.

At the same time the individual elements are a bit cliched. The ending was a surprise but at the same time I wasn't really taken aback by what happened. I'd seen it done so many times before that the effect was gone despite everything. It was a race war coupled with a popularity contest mixed in with a small town governed by a few people. The smaller elements of the story kept me from liking it more than what I really did.

Overall, the plot was definitely compelling. I couldn't stop reading. Everything that kept happening to Brenna, the people she kept coming in contact with, the clues that were unraveling, all drew me in and held onto me tight. I think Dane did a great job of keeping the mystery buried until that pivotal moment when all was revealed. Granted I'm not the best when it comes to recognizing elements like that in books (or movies for that matter) but even in hindsight I didn't see any holes that could potentially give anything away. Dane's writing was great in that respect. She can write a mystery and keep it a mystery while making it heart-breaking and soul-grabbing all at the same time.

But the small elements to it, the secondary characters, the "popular" crowd, the cops, just screamed cliche to me. Everything fit together nicely for your standard Lifetime movie to take place. At least I liked it more than your regular Sunday afternoon chick flick.

At the end of the day, I'd still recommend IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS because it really is a riveting mystery. Dane's writing will suck you in and hold on to you, not letting you go until the end. Brenna's circumstances will have you empathizing with her the entire time and, like her, you'll have the drive to want to know what really happened that night two years ago. That is if all of the other cliches don't get to you. Try not to let them. It's a great story that deserves the attention. It just has some rather boring elements to it. Dane's writing is really what'll keep you reading anyway. So while some of the elements are lackluster, the story will propel you from one end of the book to the other. I'd like to read more of Dane's writing just because she's a master at plotting. Total writer envy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Author Bites - An Interview with the Zombitastic Jonathan Maberry

It really shouldn't have been a surprise that I loved ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Maberry. Someone that stole George Romero's soul and put a YA twist to it? You really can't go wrong with that. Because I loved it so much, I asked Jonathan if he'd stop on by. Much to my uneaten brains' delight, he agreed. Some thought-out questions later and I had a kick-ass interview with Jonathan Maberry on my hands. And you know what I learned? I'm totally tagging myself onto his team when the zombie apocalypse goes down. Read on to see why. Thanks for stopping by, Jonathan!

BITES: Why have Benny hate Tom for the majority of his life? Was it a means to snap Benny out of his immature funk? He could have asked him about it instead of assuming for all those years. Why did this not get resolved sooner?

JONATHAN MABERRY: In ROT & RUIN, Benny Imura’s earliest memory was of his brother, Tom, running away from their family home, leaving their mother behind to get attacked by their father, who had already become a zombie. Benny believed that Tom ran away out of cowardice rather than staying to help their mother. Like most teens, Benny is firmly convinced that his view of the world is the absolute right one; and he certainly isn’t willing to listen to anything his brother would have to say. He’d assume Tom’s defense would be a lie. This is something I’ve seen too many times with dysfunctional families…including in my own family, where misunderstandings can pollute the whole family for year after year.

BITES: In a book world where zombies have been neutered of their former Romero testicles and humanized entirely, you've managed to maintain your zombies' creepiness but make them more than just the walking dead. Was this difficult to strike such a delicate balance? Why go this route?

JONATHAN: I wanted my zoms to be exactly like Romero’s zoms. If you watch his films, the story is all about the personal experience of the people. Barbara and her brother in the first film; the loss of Roger in the original Dawn; the pathos of Bub in Day of the Dead. Even the tragic evolution of Big Daddy in Land of the Dead had heartbreaking drama in it. That connection to humanity is lost in too many zombie stories; the zoms become merely targets to shoot at. This misses Romero’s most salient point: that we’ve becoming depersonalized and dehumanized, and that’s a tragic bit of social commentary.

When writing ROT & RUIN, I wanted to have Benny Imura begin from a perspective of entrenched hatred and dismissal of zoms. To him they are nothing more than monsters to be killed. However Tom shows him another perspective, that each and every zombie was once a person. It’s a shocking and life-changing moment for Benny, and it informs everything that happens in the rest of the series.

BITES: You seem to have a thing for zombies altogether. What started that interest?

JONATHAN: When I was ten years old I snuck into my neighborhood movie theater in Philadelphia to see the world premiere of Night of the Living Dead. I was a real horror film fanatic by then and thought I was prepared for any celluloid creature. But that wasn’t the case. The ghouls, in their endless numbers, scared the crap out of me. I had never been more frightened in my life. So…I stayed to see it again. And came back the next day, too.

Also, when I was fourteen I got to meet and speak with Richard Matheson, who told me about the writing of I AM LEGEND. That’s the movie that inspired Romero and John Russo to write the script for Night of the Living Dead. Matheson gave me a copy of the 1954 edition of LEGEND for Christmas. Talk about life-changing events.

BITES: In a genre where zombies can range from lumbering sacks of flesh to hyped-up speed demons, what made you decide to go a more classic route for your walking dead?

JONATHAN: I’ve played with fast and slow zombies in various works. I prefer fast zombies on film and slow zombies in fiction. There’s more tragedy in the slow zoms; and more genuine shock in the fast ones. My favorite zombie movie of all time is the 2004 re-imagining of DAWN OF THE DEAD (but only the unrated director’s cut).

When I was writing ROT & RUIN and DUST & DECAY, I wanted to get back to the vibe of slow, inevitable horror. Something that builds. And I was writing a post-apocalyptic novel, so I wanted a big scale. A world in which there are seven billion fast zoms is a complete no-win scenario with a zero chance of survival. A world with seven billion slow zoms…yeah, there’s a chance we could come back from that. The zoms can’t learn and they can’t adapt. We can, and that’s a big part of the Rot & Ruin series.

BITES: What was the basis for Charlie Pink-Eye and The Motor City Hammer? Were they meant to be the epitome of the breakdown of society or are they just the token assholes of the group?

JONATHAN: Alas there are always people who prey on other people. You see it when there is a catastrophic event, like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. People set up fake sites to collect money ostensibly for victims, but they were stealing it. And during Katrina there were rapes and murders, not to mention all the looting.

Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer represent that mentality. They are evil, but not from their own perspective. They are more like Visigoths and Vandals –the kind of mentality that believes that anyone of sufficient power deserves to win.

I’ve known a lot of people like this. Sad to say, my own father was like that, so there is a bit of him in Charlie. Definitely in the way Charlie rationalizes his actions.

BITES: I get that an author's characters are like children, but I'm going to ask it anyway: which of your characters is your favorite?

JONATHAN: It’s funny, a lot of people expect me to name Tom Imura as my favorite character, but really my favorite is Benny. I like his sense of wonder, his humor, and the depth of his compassion…once he gets his head out of his butt. He’s also heroic in a self-effacing way. He will do anything to protect those he loves.

My second favorite character is Nix Riley, Benny’s girlfriend. When I set out to write the book she was intended to be a minor character who didn’t play much of a role beyond the first third of the book. That changed real fast, because every time I wrote a scene with her in it, she got more complex and more interesting until she pretty well demanded to be a central character. Who am I to argue?

By the way, there are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book.

However, it’s best to read the novel first before reading this scenes. Go to the website and click on the banner that says: READ FREE BONUS MATERIAL.

And there are twenty-five pages of free scenes set in the months between ROT & RUIN and DUST & DECAY. Here’s a link to the main page; access the scenes by clicking on the banner that reads: READ BONUS MATERIAL BY JONATHAN MABERRY.

BITES: You've already run your characters through the wringer in R&R. What more could you possibly put them through in D&D?

JONATHAN: R&R is a vacation compared to Dust & Decay. Everything that can possibly go wrong, does. And there’s some serious heartbreak in store for Benny’s crew, because not everyone makes it out of that story alive. Life—and war—are like that.

BITES: What's the basis behind The Lost Girl? Is she meant to be the opposite to the likes of Charlie Pink-Eye in the sense that a total breakdown of society made her a better person whereas in Charlie is brought out the worst?

JONATHAN: Lilah, the Lost Girl, is a distillation of a number of girls and women I knew while teaching Women’s Self-Defense at Temple University, which I did for fourteen years. I met a number of women who had been damaged in one way or another by abusive men, but who rallied and found ways to become strong. So strong, in fact, that they were in charge of their lives rather than victims of circumstance. Lilah is that kind of person. Terrible things have happened to her, but she healed in the places where she was broken and rose to become immensely powerful. However, in Dust & Decay, we learn that she has weaknesses and a fragile side, too. No one is powerful in all ways, all the time.

BITES: If you could have a zombie portrait made of anyone, who would it be?

JONATHAN: I’d love one of my wedding picture, but my wife would kill me. Instead, I’ll probably get done from a photo my wife found of me as a four year old being handed my first puppy. And I’ll get Rob Sacchetto to do the art. He’s a professional zombie portrait artist who did my ‘author photo’ for the dust-jacket and the Zombie Cards that appear on the end-papers. He’s also a character in Rot & Ruin –an erosion artist.

Actually, a lot of people in Rot & Ruin and Dust & Decay are based on real people. After all, some of the people I know will probably survive the zombie apocalypse. One of my best friends, Keith Strunk, is captain of the town watch; and a writer colleague, the noted novelist Solomon Jones, is a bounty hunter in Dust & Decay.

BITES: What do you think you would do in a zombie apocalypse?

JONATHAN: I’d survive. I’ve got nearly fifty years in the martial arts and hold an 8th degree black belt in jujutsu and a 5th degree black belt in Kenjutsu (Japanese swordplay). I’m a former bodyguard; and I’ve been giving workshops to law enforcement for years, including ‘immediate threat resolution training’ for SWAT. So…yeah, I’m going to get past the zoms.

I know where I’d go (a food warehouse, not a grocery store, because there more food there and far fewer windows); and if any of the folks in my party turn out to be the ‘whiny loudmouth’….he’s gone.

BITES: I hear Costco is one of the best places to hunker down in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Would you agree?

JONATHAN: Absolutely. As I said, go to the warehouse. They’re built like blockhouses; there’s food, bottled water by the ton; books to read; lanterns; beach chairs and even mattresses. Sit and wait it out while making a decent plan.


ROT & RUIN is now available in paperback from Simon & Schuster and on audio from Recorded Books.

DUST & DECAY debuts in hardcover from Simon & Schuster on August 30; and also on audio.

Both books are available for Kindle, Nook, and all other e-readers.

Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and Marvel Comics writer. His novels include the Pine Deep Trilogy (Ghost Road Blues, Dead Man’s Song and Bad Moon Rising); the Joe Ledger thriller series (Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, The King of Plagues, and Assassin’s Code); the Benny Imura Young Adult dystopian series (Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, and Flesh & Bone); the Scribe Award-winning film adaptation of The Wolfman and the standalone horror thriller –Dead of Night. His nonfiction books include the international bestseller Zombie CSU, The Cryptopedia, They Bite, Vampire Universe and Wanted Undead of Alive. He has sold over 1200 feature articles, thousands of columns, two plays, greeting cards, technical manuals, how-to books, and many short stories. His comics for Marvel include Marvel Universe vs the Wolverine, Marvel Universe vs the Punisher, DoomWar, Black Panther and Captain America: Hail Hydra. He is the founder of the Writers Coffeehouse and co-founder of The Liars Club; and is a frequent keynote speaker and guest of honor at conferences including BackSpace, Dragon*Con, ZombCon, PennWriters, The Write Stuff, Central Coast Writers, Necon, Killer Con, Liberty States, and many others. In 2004 Jonathan was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame, due in part to his extensive writing on martial arts and self-defense. In October he’ll be featured as an expert in a History Channel documentary on zombies. Visit him online at, and

Added to the Pile + 88

I've been a bad bookie these last two weeks. Or a good one depending on how you look at it.

From PaperBackSwap/BookMooch, the cheese keeps rolling in -


And I went to Borders again. Twice.

HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire
WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr (I keep getting the sequels but I've never read the first, might as well, right?)

Things I've Learned from Books + 114

Jumping to conclusions benefits no one. You'll only end up faceplanting in a pile of eggs (preferably scrambled) and getting them lodged up your nose.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

80s Awesomeness! ~ 123

No, that's not mine. But I did own one many moons ago. Except I think mine was pink. What is it? It's a Skip It. You put your foot in the hole, swing the other end around and jump over it. Basically it's single person jump rope. While it didn't get super huge until the 90s, it's still an 80s toy. And it comes complete with an ear worm of a jingle that'll surely burrow itself into your brain. You're welcome.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Freaky Friday :|: 123

Title: Nightmare Hall: Truth or Die
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: September 1994
Publisher: Point

Joining in what seems to be a harmless game of truth or dare, first-year student Parrie Moore is alarmed when the dares start becoming dangerous, and the game seems to take on a life of its own. (

Sounds innocuous enough. It would depend on which road this trip could go on. Will it stick to uber-cheese or veer off into something a little scarier?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ban This! 2011

Oh yeah. It's that time of year again where we all band together and spend a month incessantly mocking the ridiculousness of book banning and challenging. That's right, folks. It's time again for Ban This!

Ban This! isn't anything intricate. All I've done is taken the American Library Association's Banned Books Week celebration and extended it for the entire month of September. Why? Why not? What's a week to stick it to book banners when you can have a month to make fun of them until they stomp their feet in red-faced fury? Really, it should be the whole year, as book banning douchery does not adhere to the confines of a Judeo-Christian calendar but this complements Banned Books Week so well, I just couldn't resist.

What am I asking you to do for Ban This! if you want to sign up? Not much. Just bring attention to banned books at some point during the month of September. Post reviews of books seen on the numerous banned books lists out there. Post about your experiences with banned or challenged books a la #YASaves or #SpeakLoudly. Bring attention to book banning asshattery and rant to your heart's content on how moronic these people are. Get authors on to talk about their books being banned. Anything to do with banned books works. There aren't any frequency requirements, no totals that you have to hit. If you're going to talk about banned and/or challenged books or banning bumfuckery or any general idiocy surrounding censorship and reading, sign up, grab the button, spread the Ban This! love.

If you find censorship of the book variety to be even nominally stifling, sign up for Ban This! If you feel parents should stick to parenting their own children, sign up for Ban This! If you think kids shouldn't be chastised for reading, sign up for Ban This! Let's all band together and tell those censorship nazis to stick it, to BAN THIS! If you're so willing, please help me get the #banthis hashtag started on Twitter and don't forget to grab the button to the left.

To register, just drop your name in the link widget below. If you have any questions, just holler. If you're good to go, I look forward to shouting BAN THIS, MOFOS!, with you in September.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Blending Time by Michael Kinch + Giveaway!

Published October 1st, 2010.

In the year 2069, turning seventeen means mandatory Global Alliance work assignments that range from backbreaking drudgery to deadly canal labor. Trying to survive in a world that's been ravaged by plagues and environmental disasters, three "s'teeners" from the harshest backgrounds think they've gotten lucky. Jaym, Reya, and D'Shay are chosen to be among thousands of blenders, whose task is to help repopulate and rebuild Africa after a devastating solar flare.

But the continent itself - roiling with civil war and mercenaries intent on crushing the blending program at any cost - poses the gravest danger. Separated, the three friends struggle to escape the violence and chaos, and somehow reunite. But will following rumors of a mountain hideout lead them to sanctuary, or cost them their lives? (book back blurb)

This book was a weird one for me. I wanted to really like it but at the end of the day, my like for it ended up falling pretty short of where I thought it was going to be.

My favorite aspect of it was the grittiness. I love gritty books that actually make you feel gritty and not in a grossed out way. I've read books where the characters are just gross but the world around them isn't. That just makes me gag, dirty characters. But when the world is gritty, and the author's awesome enough to actually project that onto your person through words, that's fantastic. It helps me anchor into the book more. I feel like a greater part of it and even if I end up not liking it all the way through, I at least felt something from it. Kinch does such a good job of portraying this dusted, wasted world that was once ours that I couldn't help not feel its grit all over me.

I really liked the characters too. I was rooting for all three of them as they tried to make their way through such a disorganized, corrupt society that disguises itself as something functioning. They're extraordinarily brave for taking the role of a blender a world away just to escape certain death in the canal. Despite the fact that they could be walking into it all over again. And again, I have such a soft spot for authors that beat the ever-loving snot out of their characters. I think Reya took it the worst but came out all the stronger for it. That's not to say D'Shay and Jaym had it easy but, well, to save some spoilers, what Reya went through was infinitely more terrible than what the boys had to handle.

Most importantly, once they all got to Africa, the story felt real to me. The presence of the pseudo-government faded and the realities of a dying world floated to the surface with all of their open sores on display. I believed what I was reading for that part. I didn't so much buy what was going on in the US and the total dissolution of society in a span of 50 years. I felt that wasn't time enough for all of that to happen. But I was able to suspend my disbelief enough to get over that hurdle and to Africa where I think Kinch really nailed it. There it became less about what the world had become and more about how people were trying to survive. I liked the focus shift that THE BLENDING TIME provided in that respect.

I didn't like the slang that was used. Not for any particular reason. It just really grated on me. It's basically just a lot of words chopped in half. It came off more lazy than anything else and it grated me every time I read one of the characters using it. Like 'scrapers for sky scrapers. I just didn't find it necessary.

Other than that I don't really have a valid reason for not loving THE BLENDING TIME. Maybe it was just the timing I had reading it. Or my mood those couple of days. Ultimately, it's a really good book. A hell of a lot better than some of the dystopians that are coming out now that completely spit in the face of worldbuilding. It just didn't grab me. I don't think I run into instances like this a lot but when I do, it bothers me. Why didn't I love this book? I have no idea. It just didn't hit me right. I don't know what else to say.

But I'd definitely recommend it to others and I know I'd like to keep reading the series to find out what happens with the characters. It's a great dystopian that, I feel, is more deserving of a place on the shelves than some of the other prettier covers that act as nothing but a facade for lackluster verbiage. Despite my lower rating, you should read this. Hopefully it'll hit you harder than it hit me.

Giveaway time!!!

Want my copy? Then fill out the form below for your chance to win it.
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Giveaway ends August 31st at midnight, EST.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Author Bites - Janet Ruth Young on Secret OCD

When I first read Young's THE BABYSITTER MURDERS, I was like yes! This is awesome! It focuses on an issue that many people, especially many young people, have: OCD. Usually when people thing of OCD they gear more towards the counting aspect (taps, knocks) or the germ thing (constant hand-washing/antibacterial goop application). But there are so many facets of OCD that other lesser-known attributes, like the kind of thoughts like the protagonist Dani struggles with, go overlooked. People have a tendency of forgetting that the obsession in OCD can be anything. Not everyone's Monk. So I asked Janet if she'd stop on by and talk about why she decided to take the road less traveled with OCD and quite frankly, her answer shocked me! But in a good way. Read on to find out why. Thanks for stopping by, Janet!

The premise of The Babysitter Murders is autobiographical. Like Dani Solomon, I quit a babysitting job because I had unwanted but persistent thoughts about harming the children.

Also like Dani, I told the children's mother why I had to stop babysitting. But I was already in treatment at the time, and I quit the babysitting job over the phone, not in person, so obviously there was no immediate danger to the kids. The children's mother may have been shocked by what I told her, but she didn't react the way Alex's mother did. In fact, I went away quietly and got better, and several years later, when the kids were teenagers, she asked me if I was feeling okay and if I would like to start babysitting again.

That's the germ of reality in this story. But my motivation to write about it is much greater than that.

Although my situation occurred more than 20 years ago, I'm angry and appalled that most people, including doctors and therapists, still have no idea that what happened to me (and what happens to Dani) is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. That's the main reason I wrote this book.

Additionally, I believe there's a large invisible population of babysitters, teachers, priests, grandparents, and others who have stopped being around kids because of unwanted thoughts. These people will never find the resources to get better, and their absence is a loss to the kids.

Finally, the paradox of needing to put yourself in the situation that causes the thoughts in order to get better is inherently good novel material. I'm glad that readers seem to think so, too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Forbidden Game, Volume 1: The Hunter by LJ Smith

Published March, 1994.

He sold her the Game, and Jenny Thornton walked out mesmerized by Julian, the gorgeous cyber-punk with electric blue eyes and frost-white hair. When she and her friends open the plain white box at her boyfriend Tom's birthday party, she chills to the warning: "Entering the Shadow World can be deadly. Do so at your own risk." Spellbound, they piece together the cardboard Victorian house and decorate the rooms with their darkest nightmares. Suddenly the game is real! They're in the house of horrors, running from The Shadow Man - Julian himself, who forces them to confront their worst nightmares or be lost in a private hell. It's Julian's game, and Jenny is the prize he's stalked for years. He'll do anything to win her as she bargains desperately for her body - and soul . . . (book back blurb)

Loved it. I need to get the sequels sometime in the near future.

I really liked Smith's writing. Unlike Pike's and Stine's, it didn't feel like a teenager's voice forced. It felt so much more natural, like something I'd likely read today that has a better grasp on the teenage voice. I really felt it and I believed it. Smith made a hit where her counterparts' weaknesses fell.

It had a slight Labyrinth feel to it but not as much as I originally thought. There's the puppet master aspect, taking the victims away into his own playing field and putting them through a maze made out of aspects of their own minds. But the similarities ended there. Still, I liked what Smith did, turning everyone's minds against them. Not to mention she isn't afraid to make some kills when she needs to. They're necessary for the plot, not serving it. I was creeped out a bit by Julian taking a liking to Jenny so young. I think she was about six? I didn't have that creep factor with Labyrinth (I have no idea why because it makes no sense) but I was a bit squicked by it here.

I liked how the strongest characters were broken down and exposed. No one was safe and no one made it out of their nightmare undamaged. Even characters I didn't really like to start off with I ended up liking at the end because any facade they had came crashing down. They were torn apart and the plot felt more real for it.

I haven't read any of Smith's other works (this was the one that appealed to me the most so I figured it was the best starting place) but I'd highly recommend THE HUNTER. I think it's a great showcase of Smith's writing and she ranks up there with Pike and Stine when it comes to not sparing her characters. It's realistic and fantastically frightening all at the same time and I couldn't get enough of it.

And the winner is . . .

The winner of my final Summer Blast Giveaway, an ARC of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor, is . . .


Congratulations! And a huge thanks to everyone that entered! I hope you all enjoyed this year's Summer Blast. Be sure to keep an eye for it around the same time next year. You don't want to miss it again!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

All work and no play makes Jack something, something . . .

I'm back from my desert foray. It was glorious. Didn't get much reading done because for the most part, when we were in the resort room, we were sleeping. Otherwise we were out and about doing stuff. I wish I were able to read in the car because with all of the driving we did, I could have plowed through a few books. Seriously, in the span of 6 days, we drove about 1,200 miles. All well worth it.

I would have done some posting today but the Benadryl I took earlier kind of knocked me on my ass. See, I switched deodorants just before I went out to Arizona and apparently I was a bit allergic to the new one. I just didn't recognize that it was an allergic reaction as opposed to some possible minor shaving irritation until it was far too late and I was wishing it were only some minor shaving irritation. I won't go into details because it's pretty gross but I'll just say that it itches so bad I want to break off shards of glass and rub it onto my skin to ease it. At least the Benadryl does work. It just sends me into coma land. I'll be working from home until I can wear something tighter than nothing and not go into itching fits about it. I highly doubt they'd let me wear my boyfriend's oversized Mr. Roger's t-shirt in the office.

But aside from the rash from hell, I had a great time. I saw some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen and it made coming back to Connecticut exceptionally difficult, especially when the drivers out there are far less aggressive and douchy as they are here. Driving back home from the airport made me want to kick a puppy. I ate some awesome food, the people out there were insanely nice and I saw a ton of cacti. I even had some shipped back to me. I should see that by the end of the week.

Of course, all good things must come to an end (I guess, for now) and I'm back to the grind starting tomorrow. I'll post the final Summer Blast Giveaway winner then, along with continuing with my regularly scheduled programing. Until then . . .

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I'm On Vacation!

I'll be hanging out with these guys for the next week. I don't have any posts scheduled and any books that need to be mailed won't get mailed until I get back. Sorry in advance for the delay. I shall return next Sunday in time to post the winner for the final Summer Blast Giveaway. See you all then!

Summer Blast Giveaway #9!

The final week of my Summer Blast! Here's what I have up for grabs!

An ARC of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor! You want it? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win.
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Giveaway ends August 13th at midnight, EST.

And the winners are . . .

I have two winners to announce today; one for a copy of ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Maberry and one for my Summer Blast Giveaway!

So to start, the winner of a finished copy of ROT & RUIN by Jonathan Maberry is -


And the winner of my Summer Blast Giveaway, an ARC of SHUT OUT by Kody Keplinger, is -


Congratulations to you both! I've already sent out the emails so be sure to check your inboxes! Didn't win this week? Keep your eyes open! The final giveaway in my Summer Blast will be posted soon!

Added to the Pile + 87

This week I negated the dent I'd put in my TBR pile last month. But it's being filled mostly with cheese so I'm not sure how much that counts.

From Tor -

From PaperBackSwap/BookMooch -

BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES by Laurie Faria Stolarz (I reviewed a preview of the manga version and while I wasn't impressed with it, I liked the overall story so I figured I'd give the book a try)

And I have a super awesome book fairy from Goodreads that literally sent me her store's stock of uber-cheese. She has thus been dubbed The Cheese Fairy -

Things I've Learned from Books + 113

Never underestimate the simplicity of a Hasbro Brothers game (or your standard Mattel or whatever brand you'd like to use). You may think you're being kooky and different buying that off label, odd game that's just a hint of mysterious but you deserve the beating you get when you get everyone sucked into it.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 122

Every babysitter's worst nightmare and every sat-for kid's wet dream: a crazy cross-town adventure where you run the risk of dying. Oh cool! the kids say. Oh shit! the babysitter says. This was the precursor to Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, just with less responsibility and more life-threatening situations for all involved. It comes with your typical 80s kookiness wrapped up in mounds of shoulder pads.

Freaky Friday :|: 122

Title: Nightmare Hall: The Initiation
Author: Diane Hoh
Published: August 1994
Publisher: Point

Molly's a lonely freshman looking for friends. Creepy Norman wants her to join his group called the Others, but they're weird. When she makes new friends, Molly happily forgets the Others. But will they forget her? It seems the Others aren't going to let Molly go. Not without a deadly struggle. (

Joining the Others, a group of outcasts whom she thinks are just lonely students like herself, Salem University freshman Molly Keene realizes that there is something very wrong about the group, but finds there is only one way to leave it. (

I wanted to include both blurbs on this one because they each make the book sound pretty different. I'm definitely more intrigued by the second blurb than I am about the first. It plays off more like a secret society thing than another stalker story like the first blurb does. I'd still read it either way, just for the cheese factor.
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